David Croft - the TV voice of Formula One - rates Kiwi Brendon Hartley's chances in his debut in motorsport's premier racing class.

This could be Brendon Hartley's audition piece. I think it is unfair to put too much pressure on Hartley but to say this is a big weekend is not over-selling what he is about to go through.

This is not a weekend where Hartley comes into the Toro Rosso team to make up the numbers and fill the gap Pierre Gasly has left to go off and hopefully win the Super Formula in Japan.

This is a weekend where Hartley makes his Formula One racing debut with a view to racing in 2018. It's not a given that Daniil Kvyat and Gasly will be Toro Rosso's line-up for next year.


I was a little surprised, to be fair, when I heard the news Hartley was being called up -- not because I didn't think he was talented enough but because he had been overlooked in the past and because Sebastien Buemi was in the frame as well and I thought he might get the nod because he's had more recent single-seater experience.

Hartley last raced a single-seater in Bahrain April 2012 in what was, at that stage, GP2. The fact he is becoming the 13th driver to make a race start for Toro Rosso is a surprise.

He has tested for Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Red Bull know he is capable of giving them the lap times they need.

But to put it into perspective, he has to cope with a lot of nuances in terms of the hybrid engine at his disposal. It will be similar to the Porsche engine from the World Endurance Championship but very different as well.

He has to cope with a qualifying format he won't have experienced before. There are thunderstorms in the forecast, just to top things off.

If he finishes the race inside the top 15 he has done well. If he finishes in the points he has done exceptionally well. Gasly finished 14th in his first race and he had recent single-seater experience.

I think he will be welcomed to Formula One with open arms. Former Red Bull racer Mark Webber's said a lot of good things about Hartley, and Webber is a good judge of character. I think the other drivers will help him.

We saw Lewis Hamilton, earlier this year, give the thumbs up to Lance Stroll in Canada as he lapped the Williams driver. Stroll was on track to score his first F1 points and Hamilton acknowledged that.

I think Hartley will take everything in his stride -- he is a pretty level-headed guy. I don't expect him to have any problems. I am keeping my fingers crossed here as well. As much as Kvyat -- a former GP3 champion -- is an exciting driver, I don't see how it benefits him or Toro Rosso to carry on that relationship next year because it is not working.

So there is a space open and Hartley could fill it and find himself, a few months after Porsche announced they were pulling out of the WEC, moving into Formula One in the 2018 season.

He is talented enough and I am really looking forward to seeing him finally get a chance to show us what he can do in a Formula One car during a race.