There’s some uncertainty over whether or not Pierre Gasly will be at the US GP. Apparently, Honda wants him to finish off his season in Super Formula as he’s only half a point behind the current championship leader, the Toyota-backed Hiroaki Ishiura.
That could leave Toro Rosso with the problem of having to find someone to drive alongside Daniil Kvyat in Austin, and there isn’t exactly a backlog of talent in the Red Bull junior programme that makes it obvious who his replacement would be.
With that in mind, we’ve come up with seven suggestions – some serious, others less so – of who could take over Gasly’s seat for a race.
The Swiss would arguably be top of the list for the team if a replacement was needed. As well as going off and winning championships in both Formula E and WEC, he’s still a reserve driver for Red Bull Racing, and Helmut Marko once said that of all the drivers that slipped off of Red Bull’s ladder, Buemi was the best.
Yes, he’s busy trying to secure a Williams seat, but just think of the publicity! And Red Bull loves a bit of publicity. Getting the Pole in the car for a one-off race would be a great way to see how he goes across a race weekend, and if he doesn’t get the Williams drive then who knows, maybe he could find a place at Toro Rosso full-time in 2018?
Since his few races for Manor in 2015 Rossi ended up making a name for himself in IndyCar, winning the 2016 Indy 500 as a rookie and establishing himself as one of the championship’s most talented young drivers. Though he seems happy there now, he does have connections to Honda, and having an American driver in F1 for the US GP would be awesome to see.
If Toro Rosso wants someone with experience of 2017 F1 cars and don’t want to take on Jolyon Palmer, then who else would be better? Giovinazzi has driven the Sauber, Ferrari, and the Haas this year, so he’s used to adapting to different cars and teams.
Sure, he’s a Ferrari junior driver, but lending him to Toro Rosso for a race to see how he gets on could help Ferrari make its mind up over whether to make the push to get him a race seat Sauber next season.
No attack, no chance! He’s experienced, he’s fast, he’s tested for Toro Rosso in the past, he has an association with Honda, and thanks to years of giving it everything in IndyCar (including that stunning Indy 500 win this year) he’s super popular in the USA.
If Sato was in the car it’d be terrific for the championship too, as Lewis Hamilton would get so distracted by his big shiny ring that he’d end up crashing out and allowing Sebastian Vettel back in the title fight. Seriously, where’s the downside?!
Sean Gelael has done some tests and a couple of practice sessions for Toro Rosso this year, so he knows the both the car and the team. He also brings masses of sponsorship from KFC Indonesia, which would be useful to offset the cost of Kvyat having a few crashes over the weekend.
Ok, so he’s wayyyyy off the required amount of superlicence points, but surely the FIA will make an exception for a driver who is currently an incredible 15th in the F2 championship this year, right?
The obvious choice, putting Maldonado in the car just makes sense on so many levels. After all, he’s scored more points at COTA than even Kimi Raikkonen has, and in the 2013 race he felt that Williams had sabotaged his car because he wasn’t on pole, and that was surely the only explanation.
It’d be good for Kvyat too, who by comparison would come across as a safe and consistent driver, therefore improving his chances of staying with the team for 2018.
If Toro Rosso did need to find a driver for a one-off race in the US, who would you like the team to pick? Let us know your choices in the comments!