The 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix will see the Formula 1 debut of Toro Rosso's newest driver, Pierre Gasly. He'll be replacing Daniil Kvyat for this weekend's race and will be driving alongside Carlos Sainz.
The 21-year old may look like a newcomer but he is no stranger when it comes to racing. He has won second place overall in the 2016 GP2 Championship and is part of Red Bull's Junior Program drivers. Currently, Gasly is racing in Japan in this year's Super Formula category with Team Mugen.
Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost stated that Gasly has a very good chance of proving himself in Formula 1 since he is only half a point behind the leader in the 2017 Super Formula championship. In addition to that, he also mentioned that Gasly is the next in line at Red Bull Racing which presents as a very good opportunity to test his mettle.
“The driver switch gives us an opportunity to make a more informed decision regarding our 2018 driver choices. For a variety of reasons, some of them due to technical problems, but others being mistakes of his own making, Daniil Kvyat has not really shown his true potential so far this year, which is why we are standing him down for the next races. This will give us the opportunity to evaluate Pierre on track during a proper race weekend,” said Tost.
On the other hand, Gasly is thankful that the team gave him a chance to show his capability in Formula 1.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped me get this chance in my motor racing career and specifically, Red Bull, Dr. Helmut Marko and Scuderia Toro Rosso...this is a great opportunity for me. I feel as ready as I can be, having had to be prepared for anything in my role as Red Bull Racing's third driver this year. I will do my best to perform well with Scuderia Toro Rosso during these coming races,” stated Gasly.
As for Kvyat, he will still be a part of Toro Rosso and will not be totally replaced by the younger 21-year old Frenchman. With the 2017 United States Grand Prix falling on the same weekend of the Super Formula finale (Oct 20 – 22), Kvyat may return to drive alongside Sainz. However, Tost did mention that Gasly will also run on other grand prix races, not only Malaysia.
Our best guess is that after the initial evaluation, Toro Rosso may soon decide to fully replace Kvyat for Gasly after the 2017 season.