It could be a highly-competitive weekend between Toro Rosso team-mates in Canada, as both Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly have never previously driven on the streets of Montreal.
The battle of these team-mates has been of note all-season, as Hartley has considerably underperformed thus far.
During the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, Hartley singlehandedly crashed his Toro Rosso in final practice, which led Auto Week to suggest he may be replaced by DTM driver Pascal Wehrlein “as soon as the Canadian Grand Prix in June.”
Hartley’s P10 finish in Azerbaijan remains as the only time he’s outraced young Frenchman Gasly, who impressed the entire Formula 1 fraternity with a mature drive to P4 in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Hartley’s previous endurance experience leading up to his Toro Rosso drive is substantially undermined by Gasly’s wealth of single-seater experience, mostly in GP2.
Out of the first six races in the 2018 Formula 1 season, Gasly had previously driven four of the circuits in GP2, Formula 1’s primary feeder series.
By comparison, Hartley hasn’t driven a full season of single seater racing since 2011.
The Canadian Grand Prix will be the first time in 2018 that both Hartley and Gasly will visit a country they’ve never previously driven in – which should even the playing field between the team-mates.
“So far, my only experience of the track is on the simulator,” Brendon Hartley said in a statement released by Toro Rosso.
Both Hartley and Gasly are competing in their first full season of Formula 1 competition.
“Everyone tells me the Grand Prix in Montreal is one of the best of the season,” Gasly said.
The battle of team-mates has always been important in Formula 1, but Toro Rosso has drastically higher stakes as their drivers are generally rewarded with Red Bull Racing seat.
Ongoing discussions about Daniel Ricciardo’s contract for 2019 are understood to be occurring presently at Red Bull and if the Australian left the team it’s believed one of the current Toro Rosso drivers would replace him.
Given Hartley’s recent underperformances and the fact that Red Bull’s Helmut Marko recently told Speed Week “The situation around Brendon is not pleasing”, it could be assumed Gasly is Red Bull’s current frontrunner.
Gasly also rose through the ranks of the Red Bull Junior Team, whereas Hartley was dismissed from it during a disappointing season in Junior Formula back in 2010.
Hartley made his return to Formula 1 in the 2017 United States GP after Carlos Sainz suddenly joined Renault and Pierre Gasly had Super Formula commitments during the same weekend – blindsiding Toro Rosso.
Hartley was originally called in as cover for the weekend but retained the Toro Rosso seat for the rest of the 2017 season once Daniil Kvyat cut ties with Red Bull.
Hartley was announced as a full-time 2018 Toro Rosso driver in November 2017.
“I’m optimistic about the coming weekend,” Hartley said.
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