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Daniil Kvyat’s departure from Red Bull program confirmed

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Toro Rosso Formula 1 chief Franz Tost has confirmed that Daniil Kvyat is no longer a part of Red Bull’s program, with Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly poised to race for the junior squad next year.

Kvyat was dropped from his Toro Rosso seat after Singapore to make way for GP2 champion Pierre Gasly, but returned after two races out in the United States Grand Prix last weekend.

Despite originally planning to field Gasly and Kvyat to the end of the season, the latter was shuffled out for Mexico following Porsche LMP1 driver Brendon Hartley’s surprise debut in Austin and confirmation for the remainder of the year.

Speaking in Friday’s FIA press conference in Mexico, Tost confirmed that Kvyat was now free to explore racing options outside of the Red Bull program following his dismissal.

“He is not with Red Bull anymore, and definitely free to decide whatever he wants to do,” Tost said.

“He is not with Toro Rosso or Red Bull anymore.”

Tost also confirmed that Toro Rosso was closing in on confirming Gasly and Hartley as its full-time drivers for 2018, with the pair set to complete the season together.

“Both are Red Bull drivers, both are high skill drivers, fast drivers. I want to test them for the rest of the season,” Tost said.

“There’s a high possibility this will be the driver line-up for 2018.”

Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”