Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley has had his first taste of the Formula One circus.

He's shared centre stage with Lewis Hamilton in a press conference before his Formula One debut in Austin, Texas on Monday.

Hartley will race for the Toro Rosso team at this weekend's round and will get his first taste behind the wheel of the car tomorrow morning (NZ time) in one of two practice sessions

The 27-year-old was joined by Hamilton, the current leader on the F1 standings, as well as Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson and Carlos Sainz who has switched from Hartley's new team to Renault.


"This happened very quickly. I didn't know about it much sooner than the press did. So it's been quite a whirlwind of a couple of weeks to arrive here. I'm pretty relaxed at the moment, all things considered. I'm really looking forward to getting out on the track.

"I had a bit of time to chat to the engineers and go through some data...a little bit of time on the sim. But I'm looking forward to free practice one and see how comfortable I feel and working towards the race start on Sunday. A big moment for me so I'm really excited."

Hartley said he's a lot mature as a driver since he was a reserve driver for Red Bull Racing when he was just 17 but comes into his debut under-prepared having raced in the World Endurance Championship.

"I'm not very prepared for this weekend. I haven't driven a single seater since 2012 but I like to think that the Porsche lmp1 has helped prepare me well."

Hartley said he only just met members of the Toro Rossa team yesterday after flying to the United States from Japan where he was racing over the weekend.

"There's been no expectations been set. To be honest some of the team members I'm just meeting for the first time today and yesterday during the seat fit. Nothing has been said yet, obviously I want to do the best that I can, although I'm trying not to put too many expectations on it."

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley, of New Zealand, poses for a photo following a news conference. photo / AP
Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley, of New Zealand, poses for a photo following a news conference. photo / AP

Hartley may not be familiar with the car but he knows the Circuit of the Americas well having tasted success in Austin during the Rolex Sports Car Series in 2013.

"It's definitely nice to have my Formula One debut at a track I know very well. Dates back to 2013 and I think I've driven here every year since. Actually as a racing driver learning a track, when you have enough experience it can happen quite quickly. I think learning the car will be a bigger challenge. The big tires, the big downforce that these Formula One cars have at the moment. They're setting lap records at every track they go to. So I'm going to have a bit on my hands tomorrow. I think the tracks only a small part of it."

Hartley, who will become the ninth Formula One driver from New Zealand when he takes the track on Monday NZT, said he has had plenty of advice from Porsche teammate and former F1 driver Mark Webber in the past few days.

"All the friends I have in the sport I've been asking for a bit of advice. I saw Mark [Webber} this morning for breakfast and I saw Daniel [Ricciardo] who is one of my best buddies as well, two nights ago. I asked him all the advice I could manage to get out of him regarding tires. Some of it's going to come down to driving in free practice one, seeing how I go and then asking some of those questions. A lot of them aren't really relevant until I experience the car."