He let the ‘news’ slip during an interview with Sky Sports F1 ahead of qualifying in Singapore, and also mentioned that Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon could switch place again next year, too, with a decision due to be made in around a month’s time. Marko said:
“We will make our evaluation after Mexico. Kvyat is confirmed for next year already, at least internally it’s clear. Then it’s [the Red Bull seat] between Gasly and Albon.”
It’s worth noting that this isn’t official news at all, merely the words of Dr Marko – and we all know that they shouldn’t be taken as gospel. One week Gasly is being told he’ll see out the rest of the season, the next he’s being replaced by Albon. To add to that, Christian Horner later told Sky that all three are under consideration for the Red Bull seat.
It would seem a fairly logical step, though – the Red Bull drivers in the junior series’ are either not performing quite as expected or don’t yet have the required super licence points to be promoted to F1, meaning the current crop would seem to be safe… ish.
Honda has a desire to get a Japanese driver into the sport and Naoki Yamamoto – winner of both the Super Formula and Super GT titles last year – could be the spanner in the works. There are already persistent rumours that he might not only be doing FP1 at the Japanese GP, but could even do the whole weekend. If that turns out to be the case and if he does well, it wouldn’t be surprising if Marko’s plans suddenly had to be adjusted.