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Hartley to race for Toro Rosso in Austin

13 October 2017

Not since Mike Thackwell in 1984 has a Kiwi driven on motorsport's biggest stage but that could change in the next fortnight with Le Mans 24 Hour victor Brendon Hartley looming as a serious contender for the vacant Toro Rosso seat at next week's US Grand Prix.

The 27-year-old Hartley last tested with Toro Rosso in 2009 and was over the moon to get the belated chance to race his first F1 GP.

Hartley, this year's Le Mans 24 Hours victor and 2015 World Endurance Champion, becomes the first Kiwi driver to start an F1 race since Mike Thackwell in 1984.

"I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull and to Porsche", he told the Toro Rosso site.

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"What an awesome feeling!" said Hartley, whose F1 hopes looked to have ended when he left Red Bull in 2010. 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. COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently. With Carlos Sainz departing to Renault, the team looks set to hand a full-time role to Gasly, who impressed in Malaysia and Japan, but the team has doubts about Kvyat, who has endured a hard time since being demoted from Red Bull in 2016.

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

Hartley is leading the world endurance series again this year and could become champion at this weekend's race at the Fuji Speedway in Japan.

It seems, though, that a decision has been made, as Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost is now looking for another driver to fill Gasly's seat.

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Gasly was initially handed Daniil Kvyat's F1 auto for two races, Malaysia and Japan, however, Carlos Sainz's early move to Renault means he'll be staying with the team for the remainder of this season.

Hartley has floated around the Red Bull teams for years as the official driver in 2009 and 2010 before being dropped to the junior programme. We are really happy to have him back in our team.

Hartley becomes New Zealand's first Formula One driver since Mike Thackwell in 1984.

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

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Hartley to race for Toro Rosso in Austin