Hart­ley tipped to make F1 de­but

The Timaru Herald - - SPORT - MO­TOR­SPORT

Bren­don Hart­ley could be poised to be­come the first New Zealand For­mula 1 driver for more than three decades.

Au­tosport magazine has re­ported that Hart­ley, 27, is the favourite to re­place Pierre Gasly for the race at the Cir­cuit of Amer­i­cas track and could even take over as team driver in 2018.

Mike Thack­well was the last Kiwi to be in­volved in For­mula 1, but that was way back in 1984.

That could change within the next fort­night with Hart­ley, a pre­vi­ous win­ner of Le Mans 24, shap­ing as the strong­est con­tender for the va­cant Toro Rosso seat at next week’s US Grand Prix.

Gasly has opted to skip the race in Austin to con­cen­trate on win­ning the Asian Su­per For­mula cham­pi­onship at the se­ries fi­nale on the same week­end.

Hart­ley, the Red Bull of­fi­cial re­serve driver in 2009 and 2010, com­pleted one test for the team in 2008 and two for Toro Rosso in 2009 be­fore be­ing dropped from the team’s ju­nior pro­gramme.

He also took part in a young driver test at Magny-Cours for Mercedes in 2012, as well as spend­ing time in the team’s sim­u­la­tor.

With enough su­per li­cence points to race in For­mula 1 Hart­ley is cur­rently con­tracted to Porsche and com­pet­ing in the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship, where he could win the ti­tle this week­end at Fuji.

It is also be­lieved he is close to a deal to race for Chip Ganassi in IndyCar next year, mean­ing there are con­trac­tual is­sues to be ironed out be­fore his Austin ap­pear­ance can be con­firmed.

Fair­fax NZ

Bren­don Hart­ley may be­come New Zealand’s next F1 rac­ing driver.

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