While New Zealanders celebrated Brendon Hartley's Formula One debut at the US Grand Prix, broadcasters of the event confused television audiences by displaying the Australian flag beside the Kiwi's name.

Hartley, New Zealand's first Formula One driver in 33 years, completed the second 90-minute practice session with the 17th fastest time after earlier being 14th fastest in practice 1.

At the conclusion of the first practice session, the 14th-placed Toro Rosso driver's name was displayed alongside various other racers placed from 11th to 19th by event broadcaster Sky Sports UK.

However, the British broadcasters placed the similar-looking Australian flag beside the 27-year-old's name, causing irate New Zealand viewers to highlight the mix up on social media.

Brendon Hartley's name accompanied by the Australian flag. Photo / Sky Sports UK.
Brendon Hartley's name accompanied by the Australian flag. Photo / Sky Sports UK.

According to The Express, Sky commentator David Croft read out a tweet from a user named 'ALI', who stated that they were "disgusted that #SkyF1 is using an Australian flag for Brendon Hartley's graphic", labelling the mistake as "egregious".

Croft initially tried to distance himself from the issue, before stating that he did not know the difference between the New Zealand and Australian flags.

"I've no idea the difference between the Australia and New Zealand which is why I didn't spot it myself," he said.

"Wait, I have an answer for you. A Rod our director at the track says the Australian flag has red stars and the New Zealand flag has white stars, there is your difference."

Croft's colleague, Ted Kravitz, lamented his co-worker's lack of flag knowledge, stating: "It's basic, basic flags Crofty, I'm embarassed on your part."

Hartley's F1 debut is set to continue tomorrow when he takes part in qualifying, although he will incura 30-place grid penalty for the race after his team changed the car's power unit before practice got underway.