Brendon Hartley poised for Formula 1 debut

Brendon Hartley poised for Formula 1 debut

Brendon Hartley poised for Formula 1 debut

New Zealander Hartley was formerly a Red Bull junior and had previous testing experience with the team in 2009, but his recent career has nearly exclusively involved the World Endurance Championship (WEC), a title he won alongside Mark Webber in 2015.

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.

Former Red Bull reserve driver Brendon Hartley is in contention to compete for Toro Rosso at next week's US Grand Prix.

"What an unbelievable feeling", Hartley said in a team statement.

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Brendon Hartley will become the first New Zealander in over 30 years to compete in a Formula One race after Toro Rosso confirmed he will replace Pierre Gasly at the United States Grand Prix.

Hartley said: "This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1".

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. He is part of a trio including fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber and German Timo Bernhard that leads the World Endurance Championship but will be looking for another drive next year after Porsche's decision to withdraw at the season's end.

Hartley is no stranger to Toro Rosso, having tested for the team back in 2009.

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Hartley had to make do with a role as Red Bull reserve driver in 2009, a job he shared with Ricciardo, as he struggled for form in Formula Renault 3.5.

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

On announcing Sainz's departure, Toro Rosso had stated Gasly would drive in America, but Honda - who supply the Italian team with engines in 2018 - wanted the Frenchman to race the Super Formula finale on the same day for Team Mugen, who they power.

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

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Hartley, meanwhile, will become the ninth New Zealander to race in F1, but the first since Mike Thackwell in 1984.

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