Brendon Hartley will drive for Toro Rosso for the US Formula 1 Grand Prix as Pierre Gasly contests the Japanese Super Formula final. Toro Rosso previously announced that Gasly would partner Daniil Kvyat for the race at Austin, as Gasly drove for Toro Rosso in Malaysia and Japan this season in place of Kvyat.
27-year-old New Zealander Hartley, who took the 2015 World Endurance Championship title with Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard, will partner Kvyat for the race at Austin now that Carlos Sainz Jr has joined Renault to begin his tenure with the works team early.
The leader of the 2017 WEC, Hartley won the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours and has raced for Porsche in the LMP1 category since 2014. He tested for Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Mercedes on three different occasions and four days, from 2008 to 2012. His test for Toro Rosso took place in 2009 – this will be Hartley’s debut F1 GP.
“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 in Toro Rosso’s announcement, issued on Friday.
“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.”
Toro Rosso 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.”
Gasly sits second in the Super Formula Series, half a point away from leader Hiroaki Ishiura, having taken two wins and three podiums for the Honda-backed Team Mugen.
Red Bull boss Helmut Marko said to Auto Motor und Sport that Toro Rosso’s statement announcing Kvyat and Gasly’s partnership for the US GP was a “mistake,” as Honda, who will supply Toro Rosso with engines next season, wants Gasly to drive in the SF final at Suzuka.
The 21-year-old still looks likely to take the Toro Rosso seat for the remaining races in Mexico, Brazil and Abu Dhabi as boss Franz Tost weighs up his full-time driver options for 2018.
Is Hartley the right appointment for Toro Rosso’s US GP entry? Have your say in the comment section below.