Brendon Hartley's Formula 1 future with Toro Rosso looks shakier than ever with reports that the team approached McLaren driver Lando Norris to replace the New Zealander.
The Daily Mail reports that British teenager Norris was offered Hartley's seat, only for his for his employers McLaren to say no.
The 18-year-old Norris is highly rated and is expected to take over as Fernando Alonso's replacement next year at McLaren. The Daily Mail reports Norris would have replaced the Kiwi at next month's Austrian Grand Prix.
Last week Red Bull motorsport boss Dr Helmut Marko gave the strongest hint yet Hartley is seriously under pressure to retain his spot.
Rumours swirled prior to last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix that Hartley would lose his seat at Toro Rosso as soon as next weekend's Canadian Grand Prix.
Hartley was surprised to hear the rumours and gave the impression he was confident his spot was secure but the notoriously demanding Marko added fuel to the fire with his comments post-Monaco.
"The situation around Brendon is not pleasing," Marko told Speed Week.
"We will go through this in peace and see what we can do in the future."
While he was signed to the Red Bull-backed team to help develop the car as the team made the off-season switch to Honda power, Hartley was expected to be competing regularly with young teammate Pierre Gasly and produce drama-free performances. But he has consistently been out-driven by the Frenchman and has made a number of uncharacteristic driving errors during the six races so far this season.
Hartley did demonstrate improved pace to be running on the verge of the top 10 during the race in Monaco, only to be taken out by the Sauber of Charles Leclerc late in the piece. The two-time World Endurance champion and Le Mans winner enjoyed his best all-round weekend of Formula 1 on the tight street circuit of the principality and feels he may have turned the corner on his early season struggles.
"It had been a strong weekend. Not really much to show for it unfortunately," Hartley told crash.net.
"I'm still pretty positive for Montreal. We have an engine update coming, and we had a new floor here so we had some performance to put on the car. It looks like the team is really starting to unlock the car's potential."