Hartley favourite for Toro Rosso seat in Austin

Hartley has floated around the Red Bull teams for years as the official driver in 2009 and 2010 before being dropped to the junior programme.

Hartley, 27, will be the ninth Kiwi to get behind the wheel of an F1 auto and the first since Mike Thackwell in 1984 when he replaces Frenchman Pierre Gasly at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track in Austin, the Red Bull-owned team said.

Kvyat will be back for Austin because Spaniard Carlos Sainz moved to Renault after last weekend's race in Japan, with Toro Rosso still to confirm their definitive lineup for 2018.

"The Austin track is one I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently".

The 27-year-old was rumoured to be in talks with the Italian F1 team but complications around his availability were also being factored in until the team announced this morning they had signed Hartley for the race.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost pointed out that Hartley had longstanding Red Bull roots, and also hinted that the team - which tends to try to promote young talents ready for promotion to the Red Bull team - was eyeing a more experience pair of hands to close out the season.

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He made no bones about his surprise at such a late call-up to the Red Bull F1 family.

However, his F1 opportunity appeared to have passed him by, with his focus switching fully to sports cars in 2014 when he signed up for a season with Porsche alongside former Red Bull driver Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard.

Hartley has fallen off the F1 radar in recent years and focused on sportscar racing, and was the 2015 World Endurance champion with Porsche.

"I could see that when he was 12 years old driving Formula Vees, driving off the track and doing all sorts of insane things, he tried so hard - and Brendon never gave in". However, the rumor goes that Kvyat threatened to quit Formula One and Toro Rosso should he not get his seat back.

If Toro Rosso and Hartley can't successfully come to an arrangement, the team will look to Sebastian Buemi, who previously raced for the Red Bull Junior Team as well.

"Brendon is coming as the reigning 24 Hour Le Mans victor and he's also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well. With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us".

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