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Gasly takes maiden Super Formula win at Twin Ring Motegi

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Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly strengthened his case for a Formula 1 seat in 2018 by taking his maiden victory in Japan’s Super Formula series on Sunday at Twin Ring Motegi.

Gasly, 21, was placed in Super Formula for 2017 after winning the GP2 Series title last year, and is vying for a seat with Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso in F1 next year.

The Frenchman started fourth at Twin Ring Motegi on Sunday, but was able to gain two places with a long opening stint before pitting and changing tires.

Toyota LMP1 racer Kamui Kobayashi enjoyed a comfortable buffer over the field, only for a slip up in his pit stop to cause him to drop far behind Gasly.

Gasly eased home to clinch his first victory in Super Formula for the Honda-powered Team Mugen, with Kobayashi left to settle for second place.

Formula E driver Felix Rosenqvist picked up his second podium finish of the season, taking third place ahead of Hiroaki Ishiura and Nick Cassidy.

Gasly is the leading Red Bull youngster pushing to step up to F1 in 2018, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat currently occupying the seats at Toro Rosso.

Sainz has been linked with a move away for 2018 – relying another team will buy him out of his contract – while Kvyat’s future remains uncertain given his struggles with Toro Rosso.

Gasly could theoretically make his F1 debut this year should Kvyat pick up two more penalty points on his FIA super license between now and the United States Grand Prix in October, which would trigger a race ban.

Gasly’s next racing commitment in Super Formula comes at Autopolis on September 10.

Marko laughs off Sainz stories as ‘typical summer slump rumors’

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko has laughed off suggestions Carlos Sainz Jr. could make a mid-season move to a rival team, calling the stories “typical summer slump rumors”.

Sainz sparked speculation that he could be set to leave Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s F1 B-team, in the near future over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend when he said that a fourth year with the team in 2018 was “unlikely”.

Red Bull’s bosses clamped down on Sainz, stressing he was still under contract for 2018, but did say he would be available for the right price.

Speculation arose ahead of the summer break that Sainz could switch to Renault mid-season in place of the struggling Jolyon Palmer, only for all parties to deny the suggestions in Hungary.

Speaking to the official F1 website ahead of next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, Marko laughed off the stories once more.

“Rumors! Typical summer-slump rumors,” he said.

“You will see Carlos in a Toro Rosso in Spa.”

Complete with questions about Sainz’s future, Toro Rosso has been going through a bumpy time in recent weeks, with an on-track clash between its drivers at the British Grand Prix being a low point.

Marko feels that Toro Rosso has failed to reach its full potential so far this season, and thinks it will be difficult to achieve its pre-season target of P5 in the constructors’ championship despite being just two points off the position.

“Incidents with the drivers like in Silverstone are unfortunate, as are the reliability issues,” Marko said.

“The aim was to finish fifth in the standings and I think that will be rather difficult. Budapest turned in our favor, but from Spa on you will see the Mercedes-powered cars showing us their rear.

“We had a lot of possibilities in the first half of the season that we haven’t taken. A shame.”

Sainz: ‘No intention’ of breaking Red Bull F1 contract for 2018

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Carlos Sainz Jr. says he has “no intention” of breaking his Formula 1 contract with Red Bull for 2018 despite previously suggesting he could leave its Toro Rosso B-team.

Sainz made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2015 after climbing the racing ladder with Red Bull backing, and has since become one of the sport’s brightest young talents.

Sainz said over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that a fourth year with Toro Rosso in 2018 was “unlikely” as he pushed for a move up the grid, only for his bosses to hit back hard.

Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner and Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost stressed Sainz remained under contract for next season, prompting the Spaniard to clarify his comments and clear the air.

Speaking to Spain’s SoyMotor, Sainz professed his happiness racing for Toro Rosso under the Red Bull umbrella and said he was not looking to break his contract for next year.

“As in life itself, a contract has a lot of importance in Formula 1,” Sainz said.

“Looking at my situation, I am happy where I am. I have no intention of breaking any contract.

“I think everything was taken out of context, both my statements and maybe the reaction on their part.

“We are all much calmer and happier now.”

While Sainz may not be looking to break out of his contract, Red Bull is willing to listen to offers for his services in 2018 should a rival team look to sign him.

Sainz: Silverstone crash with Kvyat ‘a killer’ for relationship at time

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Carlos Sainz Jr. feels the friction with Toro Rosso Formula 1 teammate Daniil Kvyat has been smoothed over following the crash during the British Grand Prix that was “a killer” for their relationship.

Kvyat crashed into Sainz on the first lap of the race at Silverstone, eliminating the Spaniard from the race, with both drivers pointing the finger at one another for causing the collision.

Kvyat said at the time that his relationship with Sainz had “never been fantastic”, but the pair have now apparently smoothed things over.

“In that very moment it sure was a killer. But time smooths things – the classic saying that time is a great healer,” Sainz told the official F1 website.

“After one or two weeks you are able to turn the page and stop thinking about it… at least it should work that way! We are both mature enough to be able to turn the page.

“We know each other very well and for many years – we had similar situations in lower categories. We move on to new shores.

“The team is doing its job by telling the two of us that they are not happy about it, and trying to make sure that it does not happen again. It is a situation that can happen once in a lifetime.

“It happened in Silverstone, and I hope that was my ‘one time’.”

Sainz: Joining Red Bull Racing ‘my one and only target’

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Carlos Sainz Jr. says moving up to Red Bull’s senior Formula 1 team remains his “one and only target” despite recently suggesting he could leave the energy drink giant’s driver program for 2018.

Sainz caused a stir over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend when he said a fourth year with Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s B-team, was “unlikely” in 2018, only for program bosses Christian Horner and Helmut Marko to stress he remained under contract.

Sainz moved to clear up the comments, re-affirming his commitment to Red Bull and making peace with his bosses.

“I have my opinion and I said it in that very moment. Maybe I could have used a different wording to put it,” Sainz told the official F1 website.

“It is not something that I enjoyed, seeing Helmut Marko and Christian Horner going against me, but it sometimes happens in a Formula 1 career. But it should be over, so turn the page.

“From my side there is nothing else than sheer ambition. And sometimes in the heat of ambition you say things. But that is me! I do have targets and objectives.”

Sainz stressed that his goal is still to race for Red Bull’s senior team one day, despite both of its seats currently being locked down by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

“It is my one and only target to be a Red Bull driver in the future. That is what I want, and that is what I have said a hundred times before,” Sainz said.

“And if one answer said in the heat of the moment is spinning out of control, that is just ‘modern times’.”