By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
After racing in Malaysia and Japan for Toro Rosso, 2016 Formula 2 (formerly GP2) champ Pierre Gasly is set to miss the U.S. Grand Prix in order to compete in the Super Formula season finale to try and add another series championship to his CV.
Gasly temporarily replaced Daniil Kvyat in the team’s lineup and is expected to be paired with the Russian for 2018, but he is only half a point off the championship lead in Super Formula behind Toyota driver Hiroaki Ishiura.
It is an interesting turn of events as both Toro Rosso, and Honda who powers his Team Mugen ride in Super Formula and will power Toro Rosso in F1 next year both stated that they wanted Gasly to race in Austin, even if it meant losing the Super Formula title to Toyota. Honda said they would welcome him back for the finale only if a suitable replacement driver were found for the U.S. Grand Prix.
With Carlos Sainz off to Renault, Kvyat is back and ready to race in Austin, but this unnamed replacement driver has not yet been revealed. There has been intense speculation and rumor, some have even suggested former Manor driver and 2016 Indy 500 champion Alexander Rossi could appear and do a one off for Toro Rosso, but those claims have since been denied. Other names that have been mentioned are former Red Bull drivers Brendon Hartley who currently drives in WEC for Porsche, and is rumored to be joining Ganassi in IndyCar, and Formula E star Sebastien Buemi.
What cannot be denied is that someone has been found to fill in alongside Kvyat in two weeks time, apparently because the ever mercurial Franz Tost is eager to try someone else before finalizing his team’s lineup for 2018. With many expecting a Kvyat, Gasly lineup this throws a bit of a wrench into the situation.
Kvyat has history with the team, but has once again under performed. Gasly has driven well in his two Grands Prix so far and is a is an F2 champion, and may soon become a Super Formula Champion. Who will stay and who will go?
This latest development of the silliest of silly seasons may keep us guessing at the final roster of drivers for 2018 until well after the 2017 season wraps up next month in Abu Dhabi.