Hartley 'ready' for F1 after 'crazy' week

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Kenny Smith, who according to the New Zealand media source Newshub is Hartley's "mentor", thinks the driver will jump at the chance to race for Toro Rosso next weekend.

New Zealander Brendon Hartley is expected to be drafted into Toro Rosso's lineup for a one-off appearance next weekend in Austin.

Discussing his inclusion in next weekend's race, Hartley said: "What an incredible feeling!"

The news caps a fantastic 12 months for Hartley after his win at the renowned 24-hour Le Mans race for Porsche in June, and he now leads the FIA World Endurance Championship. Coming off of wins at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as last weekend's Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the youngster should be a competitive temp for the team as he will accompany Daniil Kvyat in Austin, Texas, as Motorsport.com reports.

Last week he won the IMSA SportsCar Championship-closing Petit Le Mans race in an Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier-based Nissan Onroak Daytona Prototype global. This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1.

"COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently".

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Hartley will partner Kvyat in the United States of America, with the latter having regained a Toro Rosso seat due to Carlos Sainz's move to Renault being brought forward.

And while it might seem likely that Kvyat will stay on, he has now been demoted twice by Red Bull - once from the senior team back to Toro Rosso in May 2016 and then dropped altogether after this year's Singapore event.

Mike Thackwell was the last driver from New Zealand to start an F1 race at the 1984 Canadian Grand Prix.

As a former Red Bull junior driver, he was also test and reserve driver for the energy drinks company's two teams that year and 2010. "I'm trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it".

We also reported that the list of potential one-off replacements for Gasly was vast, featuring Robert Kubica, Sergey Sirotkin, Sebastien Buemi and even Takuma Sato and Indycar champion Josef Newgarden. "The fact that Formula 1 can look into this championship and say, "We need to choose a driver from here", I think that [shows] the level of drivers and level of teams and these programs", Bamber said.

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