Kiwi Brendon Hartley in line for Formula One debut

Kiwi Brendon Hartley in line for Formula One debut

The Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso Formula One team could be facing yet another driver change amid uncertainty about Pierre Gasly's availability for next week's U.S. Grand Prix.

Gasly was promoted to a race seat with the Faenza-based and replaced Dany Kvyat in Malaysia and Japan.

With a lack of young talent behind Gasly, Toro Rosso could recall its former team member Sebastien Buemi. The Frenchman is half a point behind Toyota-powered Hiroaki Ishiura in a battle of Japanese brands.

With current driver, and main point's scorer Carlos Sainz Jr. making an early move to the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team for the next race in Austin, Kvyat was already set to return to Toro Rosso at the next round of the season.

However, Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko suggested last weekend that the Japanese race might be given priority, a view that has since been firmed up according to media reports. The Russian will return to Toro Rosso for Austin but it is unknown at this time who will be sitting on the other side of the garage the Circuit of the Americas event.

Should Gasly's absence be confirmed, Toro Rosso's options appear limited given the shortage of available drivers with the necessary super license. That could change within the next fortnight with Hartley, a previous victor of Le Mans 24, shaping as the strongest contender for the vacant Toro Rosso seat at next week's US Grand Prix.

Honda, who will provide the engine power for the Faenza based squad in 2018, had also stated they would not stop Gasly from racing in the USA, but would be happy for him to return to Japan if a replacement Formula 1 driver could be sought.

However, acquiring the Kiwi will require some ironing out by the Italian Formula 1 team - the 27-year-old is now contracted to Porsche in the World Endurance Championship - a competition he could win this weekend with a solid performance in Fuji.

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