New Zealander Hartley to make F1 debut in Austin

Javier Stokes
October 15, 2017

New Zealander Brendon Hartley will make his Formula One debut at the U.S. Grand Prix and, as Toro Rosso's official confirmation put it, it is an opportunity almost a decade in the making.

According to Motorsport, Brendon Hartley is the leading contender to drive for Toro Rosso at the United States Grand Prix.

"What an wonderful feeling!" said Hartley, who will fill the seat temporarily vacated by France's Pierre Gasly.

Hartley was formerly part of the Red Bull Junior Team and has enough Super License points to compete in Formula One; but he is also now contracted to Porsche in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) and is purportedly in talks with Chip Ganassi for a 2018 IndyCar deal.

The 27-year-old, who was dropped as a Red Bull junior in the middle of his 2010 Formula Renault 3.5 campaign, said his experience from the Porsche 919 Hybrid programme meant he was prepared despite the last-minute F1 chance.

That has opened up the door for the under-performing Kvyat to return but Gasly may now miss Texas because the U.S. Grand Prix clashes with the decisive round of the Japanese Super Formula series at Suzuka.

New Zealand's Brendon Hartley reacts in the pit.

But having won the Le Mans 24 Hour Race earlier this year and on the back of some unique circumstances at Toro Rosso out of the blue this opportunity presented itself.

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He became world endurance champion in 2015 for Porsche driving alongside former F1 driver Mark Webber and German Timo Bernhard. This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1.

Brendon Hartley could be poised to become the first New Zealand Formula 1 driver for more than three decades.

"The Austin track is one I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently".

The shake-up was required because Spaniard Carlos Sainz has moved to Renault for the final four races of this season in preparation for a full year with the French team on loan from Red Bull in 2018.

"[Brendon] has been part of the Red Bull family for a long time in different classes, as well as the test and reserve driver for Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, will now be back racing for us in Austin".

"I've got a lot to learn in one week but I feel ready for it, honestly".

"I'm convinced he'll do a fantastic job for us".

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