Kiwi Brendon Hartley in line for Formula One debut

Ruben Hill
October 12, 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 Frenchman has made two starts for Scuderia Toro Rosso but is second in the Super Formula championship standings and just a half point behind front-runner Hiroaki Ishiura.

Youngster Pierre Gasly, a replacement driver this season himself, has opted to skip the race in Austin to concentrate on winning the Asian Super Formula championship at the series finale on the same weekend.

"Of course it is important for Honda to win the Super Formula title in Japan but we think the priority is having him in F1".

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.

Daniil Kvyat is set to return in Austin after being cast to the sidelines due to Gasly's surprise promotion to a race seat, however, options for a possible team-mate to the Russian remain very limited.

It is understood Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost wants to use Austin as an opportunity to evaluate a new driver as he weighs up his 2018 driver line-up.

Hartley, 27, is a former Red Bull reserve driver who also tested for Toro Rosso in 2009 but has never raced in Formula One and has not been in an F1 vehicle since 2012, before the new generation of turbo hybrid engines.

The Palmerston North-born driver is now competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship and is competing in Japan this weekend.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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