Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Hartley favourite for Toro Rosso seat in Austin

Hartley favourite for Toro Rosso seat in Austin

The 27-year-old and Porsche factory driver is no stranger to F1, having been Red Bull's reserve driver in 2009 and 2010 before he was dropped from the company's driver development program.

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.

"What an incredible feeling!" said Hartley, whose F1 hopes looked to have ended when he left Red Bull in 2010.

Toro Rosso has confirmed Brendon Hartley, who won this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, will drive for the team at the U.S. Grand Prix while Pierre Gasly contests the championship finale of Super Formula in Japan.

Kvyat was replaced by Gasly, the 2016 GP2 champion, at the Malaysia and Japanese GPs but with Carlos Sainz moving to Renault four races early, the Russian will make his return at Austin.

Gasly will be trying to win the Asian Super Formula championship in Japan on the same weekend before returning for the final three rounds of the F1 season.

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Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost pointed out that Hartley had longstanding Red Bull roots, and also hinted that the team - which tends to try to promote young talents ready for promotion to the Red Bull team - was eyeing a more experience pair of hands to close out the season. You'll note that the other driver can't be Kvyat: he has already returned in the other auto, having replaced Carlos Sainz Jr, who went off to Renault as part of a new engine deal between Honda and the two teams. I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull for making this a reality, and to Porsche for allowing me to do this alongside the World Endurance Championship.

As well as testing for Toro Rosso, Hartley was reserve driver for Red Bull's two teams in 2009 and '10 as part of Red Bull's junior driver set-up.

"Brendon is coming as the reigning 24 Hour Le Mans victor and he's also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well".

"We are really happy to have him back in our team".

He becomes the first New Zealander since Mike Thackwell in 1984 to compete in motorsport's premier category and just the ninth overall. "With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us".

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