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Official: Gasly replaces Kvyat for Malaysia GP

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull reserve driver
©WRI2

Toro Rosso has confirmed that Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly will make his Formula 1 Grand Prix début with the team this weekend in Malaysia.

Gasly will replace Daniil Kvyat for the next race on the F1 calendar at Sepang International Circuit this weekend.

"Scuderia Toro Rosso was established by Red Bull to bring youngsters from its Junior Programme into Formula 1," explained team boss Franz Tost. "That's what we are doing by giving Pierre this chance.

"He is the next in line at Red Bull for this opportunity," Tost continued. "He has shown that he deserves it, having taken the 2016 GP2 title. And this year being very competitive in the Super Formula series in Japan."

It had been speculated for some weeks that Gasly would be given his F1 chance at Malaysia. However it was expected that he would take over from Carlos Sainz, who would in turn move on to Renault.

However Jolyon Palmer refused to step down before his contract expires at the end of the season. That means Toro Rosso has been forced to make alternative arrangements.

As a result Kvyat will be benched for at least one race. Some reports suggest he will also sit out Japan in favour of Gasly. The press announcement references "the next Grands Prix" but doesn't give details beyond that.

"The driver switch gives us an opportunity to make a more informed decision regarding our 2018 driver choices," Tost said.

"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.

"[It] is why we are standing him down for the next races," Tost added. "This will give us the opportunity to evaluate Pierre on track during a proper race weekend."

Despite being sidelined for Malaysia, Kvyat is still considered the front-runner for a seat at Toro Rosso in 2018. Tuesday's news strongly hints that Gasly is favourite for the second car.

Currently, Gasly is in second place in Super Formula with Team Mugen. The 21-year-old French driver is just half a point behind the championship leader.

The final round of the Super Formula season is at Suzuka on October 22. That's the same date as the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

With Gasly ruled out for that Formula 1 event, Kvyat will almost certainly return to the seat for that Grand Prix. Who will be in the car for Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi remains to be seen.

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