Gasly will miss US GP to fight for Super Formula title

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Not since Mike Thackwell in 1984 has a Kiwi driven on motorsport's biggest stage but that could change in the next fortnight with Le Mans 24 Hour victor Brendon Hartley looming as a serious contender for the vacant Toro Rosso seat at next week's US Grand Prix.

Toro Rosso needs to fill the seat alongside Daniil Kvyat at Austin after it was agreed Pierre Gasly would return to Super Formula to contest the title in the series finale on the same weekend.

Hartley, 27, is a former Red Bull reserve driver who also tested for Toro Rosso in 2009 but has never raced in Formula One and has not been in an F1 auto since 2012, before the new generation of turbo hybrid engines.

Gasly was only guaranteed to take part in the Malaysian and Japanese rounds of the Formula 1 world championship, but he now looks to be the clear favorite to race in 2018.

Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko stated Gasly would race for Toro Rosso in Austin, however, the option was left open for the 21-year old as Honda boss Masashi Yamamoto did want Gasly to push forward with his Formula 1 challenge and concede the Super Formula title to rivals Toyota.

He held the role of Red Bull's reserve driver from 2009-2010 and completed a test for Red Bull in 2008 as well as two for Toro Rosso in 2009 before being dropped from the programme.

Hartley has also been linked to IndyCars where he would drive alongside Scott Dixon at Chip Ganassi Racing.

He has enough superlicence points to race in F1 but is now contracted to Porsche and competing in the World Endurance Championship, where he could win the title this weekend at Fuji.

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