Brendon Hartley will become the first New Zealander in 33 years to race a Formula 1 car with the confirmation that he will race for Scuderia Toro Rosso at the USA Grand Prix in Austin.
Hartley, who this weekend is in Japan racing in the LMP1 class for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship, will replace Pierre Gasly who next week will be racing in Japan for the last race of the Super Formula Championship in Suzuka.
In 2015 he was crowned WEC Champion alongside Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard. In June this year he won the prestigious 24h of Le Mans race and he’s currently leading the 2017 WEC Championship, with three rounds to go.
Hartley was the hot tip to replace Gasly, and despite New Zealand’s fine history in F1 with the likes of Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon; he is the first Kiwi since Mike Thackwell in 1984 and the ninth overall.
“What an amazing feeling! 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.
“I have grown and learnt so much since the days when I was the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver, and the tough years I went through made me stronger and even more determined.
“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. COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently. I’m trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it.”
Hartley last tested with the team back in 2009. Eight years later, he will be taking part in his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas, alongside Daniil Kvyat.
“Scuderia Toro Rosso is very pleased to announce that Brendon Hartley, who has been part of the Red Bull family for a long time in different classes, as well as the test and reserve driver for Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, will now be back racing for us in Austin,” said team boss Franz Tost.
“With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us.”