Brendon Hartley poised for Formula 1 debut

Brendon Hartley poised for Formula 1 debut

Here is what the 27-year-old New Zealander had to say about the opportunity to race at the world's top level of open-wheel racing.

Hartley, the first New Zealander to earn an F1 drive since Mike Thackwell in 1984, added: "What an fantastic feeling".

The shake-up was required because Spaniard Carlos Sainz has moved to Renault for the final four races of this season in preparation for a full year with the French team on loan from Red Bull in 2018. While never reaching his true potential in single-seaters, Hartley has excelled ever since.

However, he was released from Red Bull's young driver programme in July 2010 and while he completed a young driver test for Mercedes in 2012 and did simulator work for the Silver Arrows in 2013, he failed to secure a full-time return to F1.

He subsequently became a top LMP1 sports auto driver for the works Porsche team, and was a teammate of Mark Webber's as he won the 2015 world endurance championship. He also won the 2015 LMP 1 endurance championship.

Discussing Hartley, New Zealand racing legend Kenny Smith - who is also his mentor - said: "Brendon didn't like anybody ahead of him".

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"He'd have to go to formula one because that has been his main aim from his early days, and what he has been aiming for", Smith said.

"I could see that when he was 12 years old driving Formula Vees, driving off the track and doing all sorts of insane things, he tried so hard - and Brendon never gave in". It is a dream come true for a Kiwi to do what he is doing.

"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", team principal Franz Tost said.

Having gone from a kid who was best known for an overuse of hair products just a few years ago to a babyface killer in all manner of racecar, Hartley is enjoying a rare mid-career rise that few of his contemporaries could have imagined.

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.

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