WEC star Brendon Hartley to make F1 debut in Austin for Toro Rosso
Toro Rosso has announced Porsche's FIA World Endurance Championship driver Brendon Hartley as Pierre Gasly's replacement in the upcoming US Grand Prix.
The Kiwi driver will join Daniil Kvyat in the Austin race, as Gasly heads off to Japan to compete in the season-finale of Super Formula championship, where he is fighting for the title.
The Frenchman sits second, a mere 0.5 points behind Hiroaki Ishiura in the standings and is the lone Honda driver in the frame to win the championship.
Meanwhile, for Hartley, who is competing in this weekend's 6 Hours of Fuji, the 27-year-old will fly to the other side of the world to make his Formula 1 debut.
"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 Hartely.
"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."
Team boss Franz Tost added: "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.
"Brendon is coming as the reigning 24h Le Mans winner and he's also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well.
"We are really happy to have him back in our team. With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us."
Hartley got his first test of F1 through Red Bull Racing in 2008 when he was called up to perform in a showrun in Riyadh. He also did a three-day shakedown of the 2008 spec car of Toro Rosso.
He eventually got the nod to become Red Bull and Toro Rosso's reserve driver for the 2009 and 2010 seasons (in parts), before he was dropped from the Red Bull family. Post his stint with the energy drinks outfit, he was signed up by Mercedes.
The Kiwi ran in the young drivers' test in 2012 and did extensive simulator work for the outfit in 2013 together with outings in endurance racing - after which he was announced as a Porsche LMP1 driver in 2014, where he is racing till now, having won the 2015 drivers' title and also has a Le Mans 24 Hours (2017) race victory to his name.