Hartley confirmed as Gasly replacement for United States GP

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Earlier speculation has been confirmed with Toro Rosso announcing former reserve driver Brendon Hartley will step in for Pierre Gasly at next weekend's United States Grand Prix. 

The Kiwi (pictured in the middle) was third driver for the energy drinks giant in 2009 and 2010 but was later dropped from the company stable, going on to become a test driver for Mercedes before eventually switching full time to the WEC, where he would become world champion alongside another former Red Bull driver Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard with Porsche in 2015.

The junior Red Bull team require another driver as Gasly, who only debuted back in Malaysia, will return to Suzuka to complete the Japanese Super Formula season and look to claim the title as he sits just half a point behind the championship leader Hiroaki Ishiura.

Also, Carlos Sainz ended his stint with the Toro Rosso team after the last race in Japan to move to Renault early after a loan deal was agreed as part of the McLaren engine swap, with Daniil Kvyat, whom Gasly replaced returning to take his seat.

A plethora of names have been suggested including another former Red Bull man Sebastien Buemi and even Robert Kubica, though that idea was quickly shot down, but Hartley is the man to get the nod.

“What an amazing feeling! This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1," the 27-year-old enthused.

"I have grown and learnt so much since the days when I was the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver, and the tough years I went through made me stronger and even more determined. I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull for making this a reality, and to Porsche for allowing me to do this alongside the WEC.

"COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently. I'm trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it.”

His championship positions in the WEC earn him the required points to have an F1 super-licence and if when he takes to the track he will become ninth driver from New Zealand to compete in F1 and the first since Mike Thackwell in 1984. 

It will only be a one-off appearance, however, with Gasly set to return in Mexico for the final three races.