Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has said that the team will not be making a final decision about its driver line-up for the 2015 season until after the end of the current campaign.
The fight for the second seat at Faenza is wide open, with 17-year-old Max Verstappen claiming the first drive and completing some very impressive practice running towards the end of the current season.
Formula Renault 3.5 champion Carlos Sainz Jr., vice-champion Pierre Gasly, GP3’s Alex Lynn and current Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne are all in the running for the seat, but Tost says that no final decision will be made until after the final round of the 2014 season in Abu Dhabi.
“Everything is still open. Nothing is decided yet,” Tost told the official Formula 1 website. “Red Bull will make a decision within the next weeks and then we will know whether we will head into the 2015 season with two rookies or with one experienced driver and one rookie.
“It will be close to Abu Dhabi, the week after Abu Dhabi. We have the luxury of time. There is no hurry.”
Despite being previously excluded from the shortlist, Jean-Eric Vergne is firmly back in the running for a third season at Toro Rosso, with the team suggesting that an experienced driver might be better to aid the development of Verstappen in 2015. Vergne himself believes that being kept on will be best for the team as well as for his own career.
The delay until after Abu Dhabi gives something of a reprieve to both Lynn and Gasly, who will be racing in support series at Yas Marina later this month. Lynn is poised to clinch the GP3 championship, but will need to dominate the race weekend to truly put himself in the frame for a seat at Toro Rosso in 2015.
Current driver Daniil Kvyat will move up to Red Bull in 2015, replacing Sebastian Vettel.