Brendon Hartley has described his first Formula 1 race as “awesome” as the New Zealander finished 13th in the United States Grand Prix.
Hartley qualified 18th fastest in the Toro Rosso vacated for the weekend by Pierre Gasly and started from 19th due to a grid penalty.
The 27-year-old ran around the back of the field for the first stint of the race as the team opted for a two-stop strategy for car #39.
Hartley displayed promising pace in the middle and latter parts of the 56-lap encounter, gaining a position when Kevin Magnussen was turned around by Marcus Ericsson in the closing stages.
He then passed Ericsson and Romain Grosjean to finish 13th, three positions behind team-mate Daniil Kvyat.
A total of 16 drivers finished the race, the last nine of which ended up a lap down to winner Lewis Hamilton.
“It was tough out there, but it’s been an awesome debut Grand Prix,” said Hartley.
“It’s all starting to sink in now and it won’t be until I go to bed tonight and put my eyes at rest that I’ll start to process everything.
“I didn’t do the best of standing starts, but it’s been a long time since I did one of those.
“After that, I was in many battles and I’m satisfied with my race; the pace was pretty strong, especially at the end.
“I think the only small mistake I made was getting overtaken by (Lance) Stroll a quarter into the race, as I couldn’t pass him back and he held me up a bit.
Toro Rosso’s line-up for the three remaining races of the season is technically unconfirmed, though Gasly is heavily favoured to return to the team from this coming weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix.
Hartley is theoretically available for the rest of the season, given that there are no clashes between his World Endurance Championship commitments for Porsche and Formula 1, and hopes to be awarded another opportunity.
“There’s been lots of challenges, lots of things to learn and I hope I get another shot at it to put all these experiences into practice,” he added.
“I’ve enjoyed every single moment of this race weekend and I’d like to thank the whole team for this, it’s been amazing.”
Hartley’s debut made him the ninth New Zealander to race in Formula 1, the first since Mike Thackwell in the 1984 Canadian Grand Prix, and came 50 years to the day since Denny Hulme won the world drivers’ championship.