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Pierre Gasly to race with number 10 for F1 career

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Scuderia Toro Rosso has confirmed new driver Pierre Gasly will race with car number 10 for his Formula 1 career, as the Frenchman makes his debut this weekend in place of Daniil Kvyat.

Gasly will be the second driver to use No. 10 since F1’s move to a permanent driver numbering system ahead of the 2014 season, with Kamui Kobayashi having been the first at Caterham. But a driver only has the rights to the number for a two-year period afterwards, then it becomes available again.

The Frenchman will race at least at Malaysia this weekend and then in Japan the following weekend, and the latter event should be good for him considering he’s raced in Japan all season in Super Formula. He’s raced at both the Sepang and Suzuka circuits previously, a rarity for most F1 debutantes.

“I am not worried, I am excited about making my debut in Sepang this weekend,” Gasly said. “I have worked hard to prepare for this and to get to F1. I am very happy to have this opportunity. I know it will be different to anything I’ve done before and the other drivers have been racing all season, so I will have a lot of things to get used to and learn about.

“It’s a super challenge and I can’t wait for it to start. I have raced in Sepang. It was last year, when I took pole position for the GP2 race, so clearly it’s a track I like. It is very tough with the high level of humidity but I am well prepared physically.”

As for Suzuka? “As I am racing in Japan this year, I first came to Suzuka this winter, for some Super Formula series testing. It wasn’t much, just two half days. Then I had the first round of the season here. It’s a really impressive circuit, with some incredible high speed parts and the fantastic first sector.

“It is now one of my favorite tracks, even though it also has a sad place in my heart because of what happened to Jules (Bianchi) in 2014. I have enjoyed my time in Japan. In fact, I find myself liking it more and more, especially because of their culture and the way the people are, so polite and how they treat one another. It’s nice and yet so different to anything I have experienced before. I have enjoyed discovering it and now I look forward to my F1 race weekend there.”

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”