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Pierre Gasly confirmed for Super Formula drive

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Pierre Gasly has followed Stoffel Vandoorne in now two areas: he’s won a GP2 championship, and he’s spending his next season of racing in Super Formula in Japan.

The 20-year-old Frenchman, part of the Red Bull Junior Team, missed out on a Scuderia Toro Rosso drive when the team retained Daniil Kvyat alongside Carlos Sainz Jr. for the upcoming Formula 1 season.

However with Red Bull keen to keep Gasly racing sharp, he’ll be placed into Super Formula this season with a team to be announced at a later date.

It’s a deep open-wheel field and usually takes a bit of time for newcomers to establish themselves, and so how Gasly gets on will be one of the more interesting parts of the year. Vandoorne finished fourth this year, and won twice.

“It is all going to be very different, I have no experience with the car or the tracks and I know that the Japanese culture, philosophy, way of working, just about everything is different. It is a fantastic new challenge and I love that,” Gasly said.

Gasly’s placement was confirmed as part of the full Red Bull Junior Team announcement for the 2017 season.

The other four drivers confirmed are Dan Ticktum (17, Britain), Niko Kari (17, Finland), Richard Verschoor (16, Netherlands) and Neil Verhagen (15, U.S.).

Verschoor, Verhagen and Ticktum will all race in Renault 2.0, Verschoor and Verhagen with MP Motorsport and Ticktum with Arden International. Verschoor is already racing this winter in the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand.

Verhagen, who tested a Tatuus USF-17 car for the USF2000 series over the winter, is the first American that’s part of the Red Bull Junior Team since John Edwards raced a Red Bull-backed Atlantic car in 2007. Edwards is now a BMW factory driver in sports cars.

Kari will race in GP3 with Arden in his second year as a Red Bull Junior.

Kubica, di Resta complete Williams F1 tests in Hungary

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Robert Kubica and Paul di Resta have both completed one-day tests for Williams in a 2014-spec Formula 1 car as part of the team’s evaluation for its 2018 line-up.

Williams is known to be considering a number of drivers to partner Lance Stroll at the team next year, including existing racer Felipe Massa.

Massa is thought to be going up against Kubica and di Resta for the 2018 drive, with the latter duo taking part in a private test at the Hungaroring in Budapest this week to aid the team’s evaluation.

After missing out on a 2018 Renault drive due to lingering questions about his physical condition six years after his rally accident, Kubica tested for Williams at Silverstone last week before getting back behind the wheel of the 2014 FW36 car in Hungary on Tuesday.

Kubica’s test was called “productive” by Williams, with the Pole handing duties over to Mercedes DTM racer di Resta on Wednesday.

Di Resta raced in F1 with Force India between 2010 and 2013 before returning to DTM, but made a surprise return at this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix with Williams when Massa was taken ill. Di Resta impressed on short notice, putting himself in contention for a full-time return to F1 in 2018.

Williams has one of the few remaining seats on offer in F1 for 2018, with Massa’s future known to be in question after a quiet campaign thus far.

The Brazilian had been due to retire from F1 at the end of last year, only for Williams to recall him after Valtteri Bottas’ late move up to Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s surprise retirement.

Massa has made clear he would like to keep racing in F1 next year, but only if the deal is right and if Williams is determined to keep him.

While Massa, Kubica and di Resta appear to be the three leading contenders for the seat, Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe made clear in Japan there was a “large range” of drivers under consideration.

“You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at, but honestly, the range is almost unlimited,” Lowe said.

“We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so, and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”