Movement at the Toro Rosso Ranch

Robbie NguyenToro Rosso are predicted to have a pretty busy winter next season with some changes rumoured in their driver line up. It was much expected that Kvyat might be ousted to yield his seat to Pierre Gasly – who is set for his long-awaited Formula One promotion. But during a recent interview, Carlos Sainz hinted at the possibility of him cutting his association with Red Bull – after eight years – and moving on for a better drive.

However after the Austrian Grand Prix, the plot thickened with various media outlets reporting that Daniil Kvyat will have a new contract with Toro Rosso for 2018. So one ponders what the team at Faenza will do as they head into the second half of the season.

Reports say that Kvyat will stay at STR in 2018. (Pic: Toro Rosso)

SAINZ ON THE MOVE

Is Sainz about to leave the Red Bull family? (Pic: Autosport)

Sainz is currently is in his eighth year associating with Red Bull and his third full season in Formula One with Toro Rosso. He is on course to be Toro Rosso’s longest ever serving driver, surpassing Sebastien Buemi and Jean Eric Vergne.

His career is often overshadowed due to the success of his former team mate Max Verstappen  – and sticking with the Red Bull sister team isn’t going to take him far,  with Red Bull blissfully happy with their current lineup of Ricciardo and Verstappen.

Often overshadowed by Verstappen, Saniz is a talented driver. (Pic: Toro Rosso)

In a recent interview, Sainz hinted that he is ready to move away from his Red Bull relationship and seek a new challenge. This interview was met with frustration by Red Bull Driver Development Head – and former F1 driver Helmut Marko, who told the assembled media that Sainz should be “grateful” for his opportunity at Toro Rosso.

But with Kvyat’s new deal on the horizon, is it a signal from Marko that the end of the eight-year relationship between the Austrian energy drink giant and Carlos. It begs the question – Where will Sainz be in 2018?

What lies ahead for Carlos Sainz? (Pic: Autosport)

Sainz is a hot property on the driver’s market now with Renault and McLaren in the lead for his signiture. McLaren could be eyeing Sainz as a replacement for the much rumoured departure of Alonso from McLaren.

Renault is an option as well with Sainz’s agent spotted talking to the French team management – but it could be also for Alonso next season as the two has the same agent. It is possible that Renault will make room for Sainz to replace the lackluster Palmer, partnering Hulkenberg for their future championship endeavor.

Meanwhile Ferrari is also another interesting spot but it will be a monumental fight to see if Sainz will replace Raikkonen or not with plenty of talent vying for the seat. Ferrari have made it clear that they aren’t interested in Alonso, so at least that is one name we can cross off the list. That is, of course, if Raikkonen ends his association with the Scuderia.

GASLY MAKES THE JUMP

Life is a Gas(ly). (Pic: Red Bull Racing)

It is a certainty that Gasly should eventually makes the switch to Formula One. It was just the question of when – and who is he would replace at Toro Rosso. It was suggested the he would replace Kvyat last year, but in the eleventh hour he was denied the seat. Cue Gasly packing his bags and heading to Japan for a year in Super Formula with Team Mugen.

Gasly is overdue a Formula One seat – but will he get a chance in 2018? (Pic: Red Bull)

Gasly has been impressing at Red Bull during the young drivers tests and as the Red Bull Test and Development Driver, he has continually shown just how much the Red Bull management believe Pierre to be a star in the making for the future.

The only question that matters for Gasly is; can he shine under the intense spotlight of Red Bull, that many others couldn’t during their years at Toro Rosso?

THE IMPACT ON NEXT SEASON

Lights out at Toro Rosso. (Pic: Autosport)

If the news plays out as predicted – that Kvyat will stay and Sainz will go – Toro Rosso may find themselves with yet another difficult start to a season. Gasly, if he is to be granted the drive, will need time to develop and gain his race craft at the elite level. If Toro Rosso are to recruit another driver, the same story will play out. Either way, Kvyat needs a strong season and needs to lead the team.

As for Sainz, if he indeed carries out his threat and moves to another team, it needs to be the right decision for him as a bold career move. It will be wonderful to see Sainz at another team and given the opportunity to shine and hopefully stand on the podium – but more importantly, continue to develop his skills.

Could this be the trigger for the F1 Silly Season to commence? With Sainz making himself publicly available, Alonso being told that Ferrari aren’t interested and the seemingly hapless Palmer in danger at Renault, the game of F1 musical chairs is about to begin.

(Edited by @F1PaddockPass)

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