Here's a list of the eight previous New Zealanders to get behind the wheel in F1.
Bruce McLaren (1958 - 1970)
They don't come any more famous in New Zealand sport, although the Aucklander did not win the driver's championship. Battled past childhood illness to become a sports legend, as driver and constructor. The McLaren name lives on in the F1 team he set up in 1963. McLaren won four Grand Prix races from 100 starts. Instantly killed, aged 32, while testing a race car in England in what is probably our greatest sports tragedy.
Famous quote from McLaren, on the death of a team mate: "To do something well is so worthwhile that to die trying to do it better cannot be foolhardy. It would be a waste of life to do nothing with one's ability, for I feel that life is measured in achievement, not in years alone."
Tony Shelly (1962)
Competed in one F1 race, the 1962 British Grand Prix, retiring after six laps with engine problems. Described as "steady if unspectacular" in one profile. Retired form competing a couple of years later. Wellington-born Shelly owned car dealerships, and divided his time between New Zealand and Hawaii, becoming an American citizen in 1975. Lost his battle with cancer in 1998, passing away aged 61 in Taupo.
Chris Amon (1963 - 1976)
Chris Amon, in 2010. Photo / David Rowland
A famous name in Kiwi sport - Amon had five pole positions and 11 podium finishes although no wins from 96 F1 starts. The Bulls-born Amon was dogged by bad fortune. He finished fifth in the 1967 drivers' championship, with glamorous Ferrari. the great Jackie Stewart described Amon as "one of the most skilful and natural drivers ever to grace formula One". Amon died of cancer last year, aged 73.
Famous Amon quote on surviving a very dangerous racing era: "A lot of people say I was very unlucky and I suppose in terms of results, I was. But one thing I do always say to people is that I am very lucky to be here. I am eternally thankful to be here."
Denny Hulme (1965 - 1974)
The only Kiwi to have own the F1 drivers' championship, achieved in 1967 driving for Brabham. A superstar with a personality at odds with typical F1 flamboyance. Sensible rather than super quick. Eight F1 victories from 112 starts. Went on to race for McLaren, forming great partnership with his Kiwi mate. Motueka-born Hulme retired from F1 in 1974, his fears over its incredible dangers at the time having hastened his departure. He died of a heart attack while competing in the 1992 Bathurst at Mt Panorama. ONe pole position - a record low for an F1 champ.
Famous Hulme quote: "Bruce (McLaren) liked meeting people. He managed to cope, even when they were asking the most ridiculous questions, whereas my natural reaction was to think 'What a bunch of idiots we've got here, and either tell then so or not talk to them at all."
Howard Ganley (1971 - 1974)
Hamilton's Ganley had fourths in the USA and German GPs, from 35 starts. Ganley, who turns 76 this year, was a mechanic. Like other aspiring Kiwi racers, he headed to Europe in the 1960s, arriving with 25 pounds in his pocket. One of the first people employed by the McLaren team in 1964. Set up a racing car business, was secretary of the British Racing Drivers' club, and moved to the States, living in California.
He told motorsportmagazine in 2011: "I've been very lucky. I never won a Grand Prix, so my schoolboy dream didn't all quite happen. But a lot of it really did come true."
Graham McRae (1973)
Photo / Paul Estcourt
F1 careers don't get any briefer - he retired on the first lap of the 1973 Grand Prix in his only start, driving for Williams. The Wellingtonian [pictured with the late Stan Redmond], an engineer, went into race car building and with some success.
John Nicholson (1974/75)
The Aucklander, whose one F1 start was the 1975 British Grand prix, passed away in England aged 75 last month. He was classified as 17th in that British grand prix, one of many drivers who crash in terrible weather. Nicholson was another to work for McLaren, he was an engine builder of considerable note with two F1 titles to his credit. Nicholson returned to his first racing love, power boats, with great success and a lot of injuries. Spent latter years in Berkshire and Clarks Beach next to the Manukau Harbour.
Mike Thackwell (1980, 1984)
Born in Papakura, Thackwell was the fourth youngest driver to qualify for a Grand Prix. He had two starts for two retirements. Arguably the youngest driver to start an F1 race, in 1980, at 19 years and 182 days. But not officially. He had to hand his car over to a more senior Tyrrell driver in Canada following first lap crashes caused a re-start. The brilliant Thackwell, now 56, walked away from racing aged 26 and was last heard of living in the south of England where he works as a barman, a special needs teacher and loves to go surfing.
In 2012, he told motorsportmagazine: "Can't remember the last time I saw a race of any kind. Just doesn't interest me any more. Seems to me it's all about money - and technology. But I'm happy to chat about the old days because the whole point of it for me was that it was fun...at least it was until I saw the inside of Formula 1 - and I didn't like it. I wasn't interested in the money, the politics, the sponsors and the safety campaigns - always thought it was too safe anyway. Perhaps I was too young."
- NZ Herald