Hartley gets nod for Austin from Toro Rosso

Hartley gets nod for Austin from Toro Rosso

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.

"What an awesome feeling!" said Hartley, whose F1 hopes looked to have ended when he left Red Bull in 2010.

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

However, with his success at this year's Le Mans 24 Hour race as well as a chance to secure a title this weekend in the World Endurance Championship in Fuji, Japan, Toro Rosso have opted to give the Kiwi a taste of the big lights. "I'm trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it".

The New Zealander has stepped up to the vacant seat after Carlos Sainz moved from Toro Rosso to Renault.

Hartley becomes New Zealand's first Formula One driver since Mike Thackwell in 1984. He is part of a trio including fellow Kiwi Earl Bamber and German Timo Bernhard that leads the World Endurance Championship but will be looking for another drive next year after Porsche's decision to withdraw at the season's end.

The New Zealander was tipped for a spot in F1 heading into the 2008 season, when Red Bull invited him along to a show run in Saudi Arabia.

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Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost added that he was "convinced" that Hartley, whose last F1 outing came in a test for Mercedes in 2012, was the right man for the job.

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. "In the early days walking down the road, he had to have a stride ahead of you", Smith said.

Toro Rosso have turned to the 27-year-old, long a member of the Red Bull drivers' program, to take up the seat held by Russian Daniil Kvyat for most of the season, and by French youngster Pierre Gasly in the last two races.

"There is always time to go back to Indycars because he is still young".

"He is a wonderful kid and It has been so good to associated with him over the years".

Hartley, this year's Le Mans 24 Hours victor and a world endurance champion, will add his name to a roll call of Kiwi Formula One drivers that now ends with Mike Thackwell in 1984.

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