New Zealand has its first Formula 1 driver in 33 years with Brendon Hartley confirmed to drive for the Toro Rosso team at next week's US Grand Prix in Austin.

Hartley will take the seat of Pierre Gasly, who will turn out in the Asian Super Formula championship finale instead.

He becomes the first New Zealander since Mike Thackwell in 1984 to compete in motorsport's premier category and just the ninth overall.

He tested for the Red Bull team back in 2009 and was a junior driver but it appeared his chances of competing in Formula 1 dried up.


But having won the Le Mans 24 Hour Race earlier this year and on the back of some unique circumstances at Toro Rosso out of the blue this opportunity presented itself.
"What an amazing feeling," said the 27-year-old.

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

"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.

"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."

Hartley is a leading contender to take a fulltime drive with the team in 2018.

He can win a second World Endurance Championship with the factory Porsche team if results go his way this weekend in Japan.