Gaetan Paletou

Red Bull have dilemma with Toro Rosso seat

Since the shock announcement of Sebastien Vettel last month that he was leaving Red Bull at the end of the season, and the immediate response of Red Bull to announce Daniil Kvyat as his replacement, many have been speculating as to who will take the second Scuderia Toro Rosso seat for next season.

With the headline making rookie Max Verstappen joining for next season, it now seems Red Bull have a straight choice of four drivers to partner him at the Red Bull junior team next season. The ultimate aim of the team has always been to promote young Red Bull talent to the main team and therefore suggests Carlos Sainz Jr will be the favourite to take the seat.

The young Spaniard and son of rallying legend Carlos Sainz has impressed this season to take the prestigious Formula Renault 3.5 series and was a shoe in for a Toro Rosso seat before Verstappen stole his thunder this Summer. Now with Kvyat moving up he has a second chance at a Toro Rosso and it would be difficult to see him moving anywhere higher other than F1. He has impressed in testing with Red Bull and Toro Rosso, and his talent deserves an F1 seat with this being his perfect chance.

Sainz Jr in action earlier this year in the Renualt World Series

The next most likely driver to keep his drive would be the Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne. It looked as if he would be turfed out of F1 after the Verstappen announcement, although he is another to be given a second chance with the Kvyat announcement. Vergne is a quick driver who more than matched ex-team mate Daniel Ricciardo during the races during their two seasons together at Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Vergne is more than deserving of a place in F1, and his main plus for him right now is the experience he can provide to both the team and Verstappen next year in comparison with another rookie like Sainz Jr.

The other two contenders are still being considered, although it does seem from here that both Pierre Gasly and Alex Lynn still have some rungs of the single seater ladder to climb before they reach F1.

Firstly Gasly was hugely impressive in his rookie year in the Renault World series, as the reigning Formula Renault Eurocup champion ended the year well to claim a distant 2nd in the standings behind fellow countrymen Sainz Jr. From here it appears the most likely move for Gasly is to move to GP2 for next year, something he completed a part season in this year for the Caterham team. A deal with the reigning champion DAMS team seems right now the most likely option for Gasly next year, with his talent meaning he will be an immediate title contender next year.

Pierre Gasly racing for Caterham in GP2 this season. Credit goes to GP2 media service for the photo.

The final and most unlikely contender to get a promotion to F1 is the impressive young Brit Alex Lynn. The GP3 champion elect has an impressive junior racing CV including a Macau GP F3 win and numerous titles in British junior racing. He has done everything asked of him this season for Red Bull, although it seems his most likely option right now is to step up to either the Renault World Series or GP2, also at this time it is unclear which series or team he will race with next season.

A time frame for when the announcement will be made has yet to be announced, although for both Red Bull and the driver they choose, the sooner the better as this gives them plenty of preparation time for the coming 2015 F1 season.

At this moment it seems a straight decision between Sainz or Vergne, although Gasly and Lynn could be outside contenders for a role with the team next season. Whichever driver they choose, Red Bull will have picked a very fast young driver, with plenty more queuing up behind him for the moment they falter.

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Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou takes overall win

The final race of the contemporary Castle Combe 2014 season was an Open Sports Vs Saloons race at the end of the day, with the sunlight drawing in the grid lined up for their shortened 12 minute race. 2014 European Nissan GT Academy winner Gaetan Paletou was on pole in his works prepared Nissan Team RJN Nissan 370Z GT4 spec racer. Alongside was supposed to be the impressive flame spitting Mazda RX-7 Turbo of Steve Putt, however a problem in the earlier Sports @ GT race left Paletou alone on the front row. Team mate to Paletou Paul Brown was behind him in 3rd whilst Dylan Popovic completed the top 4 in his unique Marlin racer.

At the lights it was Dylan Popovic and the ungainly looking Rage buggy of Craig Moore who made the best starts whilst Paul Brown who had a nightmare and stalled, leaving old circuit favourite Russell Humphrey behind him to inadvertently give him a push start. Craig Moore held the lead in the under powered Rage until Quarry before he overcooked things and went off at the Esses, dropping himself from the lead to the back all on lap 1.

This left the Nissan of Paletou to open a huge lead over earlier Castle Combe Saloons winner Tony Hutchings, who valiantly tried to stay with the GT4 Nissan despite the obvious power and handling disadvantages for Hutchings. Hutchings had earlier stole on 2nd on lap 3 from Adam Prebble in his Rover 220 Turbo, and things soon got worse for Prebble on lap 6 as he was forced to give up a comfortable 3rd as he slowed going up Avon Rise and pulled off into retirement.

By lap 7 Paletou has used his obvious skills and car advantage to open a 16 second lead over Hutchings who was equally comfortable in 2nd, and that gap was further extended when the 3rd man Paul Brown was forced to retire at the end of the lap after receiving mechanical warning flags for noise nuisance. This therefore ended a remarkable recovery drive after the earlier stall on the line. From here until the end of the 12 minute race things were comfortable for the top 6 as Gaetan Paletou romped home for probably his first ever overall race victory, and he will be hard pressed to find a more comfortable one.

Tony Hutchings was also comfortable in 2nd to cap a brilliant end of the season for him after his earlier win, as old circuit favourite Russell Humphrey returned to Combe to complete the podium. Rob Ballard was 4th after his heroics earlier in the Combe Saloons, whilst Nigel Richards was 5th in his powerful BMW E36 M3 and Craig Moore hustled his Rage buggy back into the top 6 after his opening lap off at the Esses.

This race brought the contemporary 2014 Castle Combe season to a close, and once again it was a classic year for the circuit with plenty of action and thrilling races across all the meetings, providing plenty of entertainment for the spectators. The circuit has some promising plans for 2015 including plans for a solar farm in the circuit infield to provide the circuit’s power and some, I for one simply cannot wait for the 2015 season to begin already.