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F1: Brendon Hartley faces order to get better to keep Toro Rosso seat

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost sent a direct message Friday to struggling driver Brendon Hartley: Get better or get ready to be gone.

“He has to improve his performance if he wants to stay in the team,” Tost said at the Mexican Grand Prix

And that comes after Hartley’s season-best finish of ninth after starting last at the U.S. Grand Prix last week in Texas. He got there after Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen and Force India’s Esteban Ocon were disqualified to elevate Hartley into the points. The season is down to its final three races.

Hartley had a good day at practice Friday, running ninth in the morning practice session and sixth in the afternoon. His late run was one spot ahead of season championship-leader Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes.

“It’s great to come out punching after a few really good races for me, and I’m feeling good about the weekend so far,” Hartley said.

Tost noted Hartley has four points this season compared to teammate Pierre Gasly’s 28. Gasly is being promoted to Red Bull in 2019. Toro Rosso has already announced it is bringing back former team driver Danill Kvyat next season but hasn’t said who his racing partner will be.

No final decisions will be made until after the season, Tost said.

“You have to finish the season to get a clear picture,” Tost said. “In December Red Bull will decide the driver lineup of Toro Rosso.”

Hartley got a seat with Toro Rosso late last season and was the first driver from New Zealand in Formula One in 30 years. He’s been consistently outperformed by his teammate all season.

Hartley signed with Red Bull’s young driver program as a teenager, but lasted only a short while before he was cut. He moved into a successful career in endurance racing where he won a world championship. His return to the Red Bull program came a decade after he was first let go.

Dan Ticktum wins crash-marred FIA F3 World Cup in Macau

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Overshadowed by a horrific crash involving Sophia Floersch was the fact that 19-year-old Dan Ticktum dominated and won the Macau Grand Prix – a victory that puts him closer to earning the superlicence required to allow him to race with Formula 1, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Ticktum won Macau’s qualification race as well as the Grand Prix, starting first in both events. For his victories, he earned 10 points, which combined with 25 for his runner-up finish in the European F3 Championship leaves him just five below the 40 needed for the license.

This was Ticktum’s second Macau Grand Prix victory.

“It was a dominant performance that I was preparing for,” Ticktum said on his web site. “I don’t think I’ve ever prepared as hard as I did for this race and it all worked out. In the final race a lot of variables were thrown at me but I handled them.”

On his way to victory lane, Ticktum had to survive several restarts including the lengthy red flag period following Floersch’s accident to repair the barrier.

“I can’t count how many safety car restarts we had to do,” Ticktum said. “It puts a lot of pressure on a driver here with such a long run down to the first corner. I can’t remember a weekend when I’ve put it all together so well.

“The car was absolutely perfect all weekend, it was so good and I can’t thank Motopark enough for that. I’ve never been so involved in the set-up, felt so at one with the car as I did this weekend.”