A Tale of Four Drivers – Toro Rosso Edition
It began simply enough.
On Monday, Toro Rosso announced that drivers Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley would pilot their cars at this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix. This is the same team that began the Formula One season with Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat. It has now emerged that Red Bull Jr intends to run Hartley and Gasly in 2018. That’s 100% turnover in just a couple of races. Let’s hear the tale of the four drivers to sort this out.
First, Renault wanted to hire Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz. They had to boot British driver Jolyon Palmer to do it, but space was made. So, at last week’s US Grand Prix, the popular Spaniard made his debut as a Toro Rosso driver – fairly straightforward but messy. A more talented competitor replaced a less competent one. Okay so far.
Next, they decided to promote a junior Red Bull driver by the name of Pierre Gasly to fill Sainz’ vacancy. Good. But Gasly couldn’t race in Austin, as he was committed to concluding his season in Japanese Super Formula. Gasly began competing for Toro Rosso at Malaysia, and this meant that Kvyat had to be pushed aside for Gasly. Now it beings to get complicated.
In Austin, the team had no one in place to drive. What to do? They brought back Kvyat for a one-off, and he did well, scoring points for the first time in a long time. And in the second driver seat, they called on Brendon Hartley, a Kiwi driver who was looking for a new ride for 2018, and who hadn’t driven a car without a roof since the Obama administration. Hartley did well despite that, finishing 13th.
In the meantime, Toro Rosso decided to terminate Daniil Kvyat. Whether this was because of declining sponsor contributions or poor driver performance cannot be said. But, it was made clear to the press that the Russian driver will not be back in 2017 or 2018.
Which brings us to the New Zealander, Brendon Hartley. Toro Rosso head honcho Franz Tost said on October 27 that there was a “high possibility” that the 2018 drivers for Toro Rosso would be Hartley and Gasly.