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If the articles and rumors are true and Renault do move their engine supply to McLaren and away from Scuderia Toro Rosso (STR) as a sort of payment in kind as well as moving Carlos Sainz to Renault Sport F1, then this leaves a seat at the junior Red Bull team as well as a much-needed engine supply which Honda would presumably fill.

As such, the conversation has naturally evolved to thoughts on which driver will fill the STR seat? The conventional wisdom might be Pierre Gasly who dropped no small hint that he could be heading to STR:

“I know there are few things going on at the moment,” said Gasly.

“We will see in the next couple of days what will happen.

“For me, it will be amazing [to race in F1]. It’s been my dream and I’ve been working really hard to get there.

“I’m still pushing every day to make it happen.

“This weekend I wanted to focus on my weekend and do the best I could.

“Now, we have a few days until the next race, and Malaysia will arrive quickly. Let’s see how it goes. Hopefully I can be there.”

Currently running second in the Super Formula series in which he races, the Red Bull Junior driver has been working hard for the opportunity to drive in F1 and that could come sooner than later if rumors are correct.

Malaysia could be the first race in which Gasly runs in the STR if Renault jettison Jolyon Palmer in favor of Sainz for the balance of the season—which sounds quite harsh to be honest but Palmer hasn’t been doing himself any favors at Renault.

There’s also another curve ball that could either impact Gasly’s opportunity or even thwart current STR driver, Daniil Kvyat. If Honda do supply the engine for STR, they may want to supply the driver in the form of Nobuharu Matsushita.

Matsushita still needs FIA super license points in order to qualify for the ride but there may be enough junior races left to do that should Honda press very hard to make it happen. If it did happen, Would Kvyat be at risk in order to field Gasly and Honda’s junior driver?

Time will tell but in the end, it is a circuitous route to keep Alonso happy and at McLaren.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Tom Firth

    I don’t see Matsushita factoring. He needs to get from 6th to 3rd in the championship with four races to go. He’s only 37 points adrift of 3rd. The races left involve two with a maximum of 15 points for a win + 2 points for fastest lap each and two races with F1 points scoring system + 4 points for pole and 2 for fastest lap each, so are way enough points for him to do it.

    Unfortunately between him and third is Latifi, Giotto and Markelov. Whilst I think he may pass Latifi in points, I don’t see Giotto and Markelov having bad enough weekends that Matsushita can capitalise.

    I hope Gasly gets a chance at Red Bull. If he doesn’t now then I don’t think it is going to happen.

  • Scoot Just Scoot

    I may be being dense here, but trying to work out the logic to these various moves. So this is what Renault want, as they get a replacement driver for Palmer, Honda get to keep Alonso and get a hopefully better engine, but what to Toro Rosso get from the shuffle? Are they banking on Honda being better in the future? Did they secure a stack of cash for making this happen?

    • I think you’re close. Renault moves engine supply to McLaren, Honda moves to Toro Rosso and Sainz goes to Renault. Renault get a driver that’s highly rated. Honda stays in series and McLAren get Renault lump to keep Fred happy.

      • Tom Firth

        Toro rosso seems to get a cheaper engine deal out of it and in the longer run, the possibility exists for Red Bull to sell Toro Rosso off to Honda if things don’t work out.

        • jakobusvdl

          Also the Red Bull group get access to the Honda p.u, so if it does come good, they can ditch Renault and have the Honda in both STR and RBR.

          • Scoot Just Scoot

            Thanks everyone for clearing that up… So the next question would be: If McLaren have no faith in Honda, but Red Bull/STR think of them as potential race winners down the line, someone in this equation is going to be proved quite wrong a couple of seasons down the line, and that will be entertaining/unfortunate. Imagine a renault powered McLaren team, with a power deficit to a fully functioning Honda powered Red Bull (or even STR, to really rub it in), but with Alonso having retired, and thus no superstar driver…

          • jakobusvdl

            The advantages of being the primary team for a p.u supplier are so big that McLaren would have to be totally convinced that Honda can’t provide a viable power unit, in a useful time frame.
            As you say, if Honda do prove them wrong, McLaren are going to look really dumb for giving up on Honda.

      • Meine Postma

        And of course this is all a temporary thing for McLaren, in preparation for the new engine rules (maybe they can get Audi or Porsche or finally build their own engine).

        They just have no faith in Honda anymore, I see that more as a reason than keeping Alonso happy :-)
        But that’s all conjecture of course.