Hartley gets nod for Austin from Toro Rosso

Hartley gets nod for Austin from Toro Rosso

"Eventually [after moving] I made some friends, like Brendon Hartley, who was racing in the same series that year so I could relate to him, he was from the same part of the world and a Red Bull driver at the time so he was someone I was trying to aspire to", Ricciardo said.

The team has released a statement confirming his appointment for that race only.

Toro Rosso have turned to the 27-year-old, long a member of the Red Bull drivers' program, to take up the seat held by Russian Daniil Kvyat for most of the season, and by French youngster Pierre Gasly in the last two races.

"What an incredible feeling", Hartley said in a team statement.

With enough super licence points to race in F1, Hartley is now contracted to Porsche and competing in the World Endurance Championship, where he could win the title this weekend at Fuji, Japan.

Gasly was brought in at the expense of Daniil Kvyat for the recent races in Malaysia and Japan.

Hartley said: "This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1".

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After being named official reserve driver for Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2008, and testing twice for the latter, a move to British Formula 3 followed, where he finished third ahead of Sergio Perez and Marcus Ericsson.

Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost says the team has no doubts Hartley's extensive racing experience will set him up perfectly for the race in Austin.

On announcing Sainz's departure, Toro Rosso had stated Gasly would drive in America, but Honda - who supply the Italian team with engines in 2018 - wanted the Frenchman to race the Super Formula finale on the same day for Team Mugen, who they power.

"Brendon is coming as the reigning 24h Le Mans victor and he's also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well", said Tost.

"We are really happy to have him back in our team".

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. "With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us".