Full­time drive awaits

Sunday Star-Times - - Sport/Racing - ALAN BALD­WIN

New Zealan­der Bren­don Hart­ley and French rookie Pierre Gasly are likely to be re­tained as Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso’s For­mula One lineup next sea­son, team prin­ci­pal Franz Tost said yes­ter­day.

‘‘We want to test them for the rest of the sea­son be­cause there is a high pos­si­bil­ity that this will be the driver lineup for 2018,’’ the Aus­trian told re­porters at the Mex­i­can Grand Prix.

Dropped Rus­sian Daniil Kvyat has mean­while left the Red Bull driver pro­gramme and is now a free agent.

Hart­ley was drafted in for the US Grand Prix in Austin and is paired with Gasly, who missed the race in Texas, for the first time this week­end.

Kvyat, 23, was dropped by the Red Bull-owned team for the sec­ond time this sea­son af­ter last week­end’s race. He had al­ready been de­moted by Red Bull in 2016.

‘‘[Kvyat] is not any more with Red Bull and there­fore he is free to de­cide what­ever he wants to do,’’ Tost said.

The prin­ci­pal said he was re­ally happy that Le Mans 24 Hours win­ner Hart­ley, who tested for the team in 2009 and was then dropped, had re­turned and in­di­cated clearly that he saw him in the car beyond this sea­son.

‘‘Bren­don is a very high skilled driver, very com­mit­ted, pas­sion­ate for mo­tor­sport ... if we give him a com­pet­i­tive car, he will be there and he will also fight in For­mula One for suc­cess.

‘‘And I hope that es­pe­cially next year we will bring to­gether a com­pet­i­tive pack­age that he can also fight for vic­to­ries and good po­si­tions,’’ added Tost, whose team are switch­ing to Honda en­gines.

The Honda power unit has been woe­fully un­com­pet­i­tive with McLaren this sea­son.

Red Bull team boss Chris­tian Horner said Hart­ley’s was a fan­tas­tic tale of

re­demp­tion and de­ter­mi­na­tion.

‘‘That is a guy who started off life on the ju­nior pro­gramme, he got dropped early on in his ca­reer - there was no re­morse, no ‘poor me’ or ‘haven’t I been badly treated’. He thanked Red

Bull for the op­por­tu­nity and en­deav­oured to stay in touch.

‘‘He had noth­ing else to race. He went back to racing Mi­nis, to racing his­toric For­mula One cars.

‘‘Any­thing he could get his hands on, he raced. And he showed a pas­sion and a com­mit­ment to keep do­ing what he be­lieved in and him­self as a race car driver.’’

Hart­ley, now 27, then re­newed the re­la­tion­ship with Red Bull when he joined the Porsche sportscar pro­gramme and won the world en­durance cham­pi­onship.

‘‘I think it tes­ti­mony to him, his de­ter­mi­na­tion and tenac­ity and skill and tal­ent that he’s got him­self back into a po­si­tion that he’s been se­lected to be in the Toro Rosso car,’’ said Horner.

Bren­don is a very high skilled driver, very com­mit­ted, pas­sion­ate for mo­tor­sport.

Toro Rosso team prin­ci­pal Franz Tost


Bren­don Hart­ley has had only one race for Toro Rosso but the team boss has al­ready in­di­cated he is in line to be a full­time driver in 2018.

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