Hartley to drive for Toro Rosso at next weekend's US GP

Mark Thompson  Getty Images Sport

Mark Thompson Getty Images Sport

We reported on Tuesday this week that, at 2018 Honda partner Honda's request, Pierre Gasly will skip the U.S. grand prix in order to fight for the Super Formula title.

With one LMP1 World championship to his credit for the German powerhouse, another all but guaranteed once the current season ends, and an overall victory in June's 24 Hours of Le Mans behind the wheel of the all-conquering 919 Hybrid, the Kiwi has more than solved any lingering questions as to whether he's made from extraordinary stuff.

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

Hartley, the Red Bull official reserve driver in 2009 and 2010, completed one test for the team in 2008 and two for Toro Rosso in 2009 before being dropped from the team's junior programme.

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With Carlos Sainz moving to Renault and Gasly returning to Japan to race in the final round of the Super Formula series, the Faenza-based outfit is bringing back Dany Kvyat but still has a seat on offer for Austin.

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.

"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".

The New Zealander will be the second driver to debut with the Italy-based team this season after Gasly was drafted in for the Malaysian and Japanese Grands Prix in place of under-performing Russian Daniil Kvyat.

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

Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said that Hartley's recent driving experiences, and success, has prompted him to become top choice to step in for Gasly.

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

New Zealand's last F1 driver was Mike Thackwell who raced in 1984.

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

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