Lando Norris linked with Toro Rosso seat as Brendon Hartley faces axe

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British teenager Lando Norris has been approached by Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso to race for them for the remainder of the Formula One season.

Norris is the reserve driver for McLaren this year, but Toro Rosso made a formal move to sign the 18-year-old on loan as a replacement for the under-performing New Zealander Brendon Hartley.

It is reported that Toro Rosso wanted to make Norris Britain’s youngest ever F1 debutant in Austria next month – just seven days before his home race at Silverstone – but McLaren are believed to have rejected their proposal.

Toro Rosso were keen for the temporary deal to be extended into next season, but McLaren’s plans beyond this year remain undetermined and the British team could yet choose to promote Norris to one of their race seats in 2019.

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Daniel Ricciardo has the confidence and skill set to make it a three-way world title battle

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Whether he is driving a caravan around a Formula One track or throwing touchdowns with Tom Brady on a super yacht in the south of France, Daniel Ricciardo is a man who knows no boundaries.

The Australian, fresh off the back of a stunning victory around the streets of Monaco, is now third in the drivers’ standings after his win in the Principliaty.

Ricciardo topped every session across the weekend in Monte Carlo – including each of the three qualifying sessions – before overcoming a serious loss in power to beat Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to the chequered flag.

In the midst of a purple patch, it was a perfect weekend for the Perth native and begs the question; can he challenge for the title this season?

The Red Bull driver is now 38 points behind Hamilton, who is 14 ahead of Vettel.

All three have now chalked up two victories each this season and with another 15 races to go, the title fight has already intensified.

For all the talk of a two horse race in 2018, Ricciardo has firmly put his name in the frame.

At 28, he is two years Vettel’s junior and four years younger than Hamilton, and although he is nowhere near as successful as either opponent, he is starting to showcase the skills and confidence to challenge two of this generation’s best.

In China last month, he picked off Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas in three clean sweeps to rise through the field from sixth for his first win of the season.

It was a masterful performance, with each overtake aggressive but smoother than the last.

It was just one of the many examples of his genuine class behind the wheel, and with a competitive car, he could potentially topple the big names on a consistent basis.

Reliability issues saw the Milton Keynes-based Red Bull suffer their worst campaign in 2017 in nearly 11 years, but their new chassis and a strong Renault-powered engine should put them in a position to challenge their rivals this season, as they bid to close the gap at the top of the constructors’ championship.

But for all the positive talk coming out of Buckinghamshire, Ricciardo faces an uncertain future at Red Bull and is unwilling to sign beyond 2018 until he understands the potential of this car.

Christian Horner and Co wil be desperate to keep hold of the biggest name in the sport at the moment. Along with teammate Max Verstappen, Red Bull boast the most exciting driver line-up on the grid.

With Bottas and Raikkonen entering the final year on their respective deals, a driver merry-go-round could ensue at the end of the campaign with the Australian a front runner to secure one of the Mercedes or Ferrari seats.

Primed to be a world champion, Ricciardo has the tools at his disposal and a car – if consistent – to make this dream a reality. And with his confidence sky high and his driving ability on song, now is the time for Ricciardo to step up and show why is one of the leading men on the grid.

Any driver can flicker before fading, but the ever-smiling Australian needs to prove his recent ferocious form is here to stay and that he can firmly push Vettel and Hamilton in the title race and in future years.

Hamilton may lift the title for a fifth time in November, but this could be the year we see Ricciardo close in as a serious contender for the world championship.

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Daniel Ricciardo reigns supreme and other takeaways from Monaco GP

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Daniel Ricciardo nursed his wounded Red Bull over the line to win the Monaco Grand Prix and claim his second victory of the Formula One campaign.

Ricciardo was down on power for the majority of the sport’s most famous race by the Mediterranean, but he bravely held off challenges from Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag.

Vettel, who conceded defeat in the closing stages of Sunday’s glamorous grand prix, cuts Hamilton’s championship lead to 14 points. Kimi Raikkonen finished in fourth with Valtteri Bottas fifth for Mercedes.

Here’s our main takeaways from Monaco.

Ricciardo reigns supreme

The Australian was immense all weekend, converting only his second career pole into a second victory of the season.

The 28-year-old utterly dominated the track action, topping all three practice sessions and then set a new Monte Carlo track record in Q3 on Saturday.

His advantage may have only been two hundredths of a second in qualifying, but he was made to work all the way to the chequered flag on race day, with Vettel breathing down his neck for over 45 laps of the race.

A loss of power midway through the race meant he struggled to pull further away from the Ferrari, but victory alone will have boosted confidence for the Milton Keynes outfit after a mixed start to the season.

Vettel cuts gap in title race

Although he was unable to topple Ricciardo, the German can leave Monaco with plenty of positives after sealing second and also reducing Hamilton’s lead at the top of the championship to 14 points.

After failing to make the podium in Spain two weeks ago, Vettel led a consistent Ferrari performance in the south of France, between his superb result and team-mate Kimi Raikkonen crossing the line in fourth.

Staying within a second of Ricciardo for the majority of the race, he didn’t put a foot wrong around a circuit that is renowned for a lack of overtaking opportunities.

With two weeks until the championship rolls into Canada, the 30-year-old is slowly chipping away at Hamilton’s lead, something that is a minor concern with three quarters of the season still to go.

Hamilton resurgence continues

In a race that the Red Bulls were expected to dominate – and Ricciardo rightly did – Hamilton would have taken third before the weekend even began.

With back-to-back wins in Baku and Barcelona, the championship leader may not be fully comfortable in the W09 but looked solid as he stayed within a second of Vettel and two seconds of Ricciardo for large spells of the race.

It’s clear his resurgence is here to stay and represents a huge positive for the title race as he and Vettel go in search of that illustrious fifth world title.

Verstappen steps up

The Dutchman showed serious composure and pace to navigate the tight confines of the circuit and finish ninth after starting from the back of the grid.

One of the favourites leading into the weekend, Verstappen drove into the back of a wall in free practice and was unable to get out to set a time in Q1.

It was the sixth time the 20-year-old has either skidded or collided with another driver so far this season.

But despite the criticism, the Red Bull star proved his class with a stunning driver to move up 11 places and finish in the points.

He still has plenty to work on before the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks.

Ocon shows desire

The Frenchman may be off form and also the pace that saw him clinch 18 top-10 finishes last season, but the Force India youngster produced a masterclass this weekend to take sixth – eight places ahead of his team-mate Sergio Perez.

With 10th, 11th, 12th and two DNFs in his first five races respectively, Ocon showed flashes of confidence in Monaco after a poor start to his second season in F1.

In a long season, the Evreux native has time on his side to transform his form and push Force India into a high midfield place again. He needs a consistent run if he is to be considered for a potential Mercedes seat in the future.

Williams struggle again

Another disappointing finish for Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll with both drivers finishing 16th and 17th respectively.

With Williams sitting at the basement of the championship, now is the right time for Paddy Lowe and Co. to give reserve driver Robert Kubica a chance to see if he can help revive fortunes at the garage.

If the 33-year-old fails to prove himself, then Williams can stick to their original plan of pushing the two youngsters until the end of the season before drafting in a more experienced name, something that is well needed.

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