July 19, 2018

New Zealander Hartley to make F1 debut in Austin

13 October 2017, 11:42 | Anna Jefferson

Brendon Hartley poised for Formula 1 debut

Pierre Gasly to Miss US Grand Prix for Super Formula Finale

New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley has been confirmed to make his Formula 1 debut at next week's US Grand Prix, becoming the ninth Kiwi to race in the prestigious competition after agreeing to terms with Toro Rosso.

Hartley, 27, will be the ninth Kiwi to get behind the wheel of an F1 vehicle and the first since Mike Thackwell in 1984 when he replaces Frenchman Pierre Gasly at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track in Austin, the Red Bull-owned team said.

Since then, Hartley has raced in a variety of events, winning the 2015 World Endurance Championship - a series he again leads this year. "This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1", said Hartley.

After being named official reserve driver for Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2008, and testing twice for the latter, a move to British Formula 3 followed, where he finished third ahead of Sergio Perez and Marcus Ericsson.

One might wonder why Toro Rosso didn't simply hold on to Sainz for just one more round, which would have allowed Gasly to compete in the Super Formula finale and eliminated the need to find a fourth available driver.

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

The other vehicle will be driven by Daniil Kvyat, who returns after being dropped in favour of Gasly two races ago. COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently.

He can win a second World Endurance Championship with the factory Porsche team if results go his way this weekend in Japan.

He has raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours each year since, while also competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship since 2014.

Hartley, 27, said it was an wonderful feeling to be contemplating a debut at last and felt ready for it at a track he already knows from world endurance.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said he was delighted for Hartley, describing him as part of the Red Bull family.

"With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us".

Hartley will partner Kvyat in the U.S., with the latter having regained a Toro Rosso seat due to Carlos Sainz's move to Renault being brought forward.

The last New Zealander to race in Formula One was Mike Thackwell 33 years ago.

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