By Alan Baldwin
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Toro Rosso have dropped Russian Daniil Kvyat for Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix and handed Brendon Hartley a second chance after the New Zealander made a strong debut in Texas at the weekend.
Frenchman Pierre Gasly will return to the lineup after missing the U.S. Grand Prix to compete in the final round of the Japanese Super Formula championship that was ultimately washed out by bad weather.
Hartley, who finished 13th at the Circuit of the Americas, impressed with his calm approach to stepping in at the last moment and made no major mistakes in the race.
“Scuderia Toro Rosso’s driver lineup for the upcoming 2017 Mexican Grand Prix will be formed by … Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley,” the team said in a statement.
Gasly competed for the Red Bull-owned team in Malaysia and Japan alongside Spaniard Carlos Sainz, who has now moved to Renault (PA:).
It is the third time that Kvyat has been dropped by Red Bull and it remains to be seen whether he returns, with the 23-year-old Russian seemingly no longer in the company’s long-term plans.
Toro Rosso serves as a feeder team to the main Red Bull Racing outfit, bringing on young drivers, and Kvyat was always operating on borrowed time having been promoted and dropped from the former champions.
However, Hartley is 27 and was dropped from the Red Bull program entirely after testing with Toro Rosso in 2009.
His return to the fold is unprecedented for a team that has cast many drivers aside over the years, but he has won the Le Mans 24 Hours and world endurance championship in the intervening years.
The New Zealander, his country’s first Formula One driver in 33 years, also has a reputation as a very quick driver from his time with the Porsche endurance team.
Kvyat meanwhile has accumulated only five points from 15 races this season, finishing 10th in Austin, and was completely eclipsed by Sainz in the early part of the year.
He was dropped from the Red Bull senior team four races into the 2016 season to make way for Max Verstappen, a Dutch teenage prodigy who is now 20 and a two times race winner.
Toro Rosso are still evaluating their options for 2018, with Gasly looking sure to be one of the drivers and Hartley clearly in the frame.
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