Motorsport: Brendon Hartley starting in Mexican Grand Prix
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Kiwi Brendon Hartley has earned a second drive with Toro Rosso after a solid outing in yesterday's US Grand Prix in Texas.
Toro Rosso have confirmed that Hartley, who finished 13th in Austin, will race in this weekend's Mexico Grand Prix.
His Russian teammate Daniil Kvyat however has lost his seat for the next round, being replaced by Pierre Gasly.
Gasly was the driver Hartley replaced in the US GP after the event clashed with a Super Formula race at Suzuka.
Starting on the back row in Texas, Hartley showed good speed, particularly late in the race, and rewarded the Toro Rosso team with a good performance given his lack of time at this level.
Hartley made a conservative start from 19th and went through the first corner in 20th place but he managed to jump Sauber's Pascal Werhlein on the opening lap and took advantage of Kevin Magnussen running wide in his Haas to be 18th by lap two.
He made an early pit stop and committed to the two-stop strategy which might not have been the better call by his team. The 27-year-old backed up what we saw in practice by impressing on long runs and managing his tyres well.
He went by Magnussen again late in the race after the Dane had clashed with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson. Hartley then managed to sneak by the Swede and Haas driver Romain Grosjean before the end of the race as well to secure an impressive 13th.
Hartley finished 13th on Formula 1 debut while championship leader Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory at the US Grand Prix at the weekend.
Starting on the back row Hartley showed good speed, particularly late in the race, and rewarded the Toro Rosso team with a good performance given his lack of time at this level.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, left, of Britain, douses Usain Bolt, center, as he celebrates his win in the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix auto race at the Circuit of the Americas, Sunday. Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, right, finished third. Picture/AP
Meanwhile Hamilton was beaten off the line by Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel but recovered to ease to victory and all but assure himself of the world championship - something he can secure at next weekend's Mexican Grand Prix.
Vettel took second ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who climbed through the field to finish third after starting 16th.
Hartley, the first Kiwi to start an F1 race since 1984, improved steadily through the race from his 19th place on the starting grid at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.
Hartley produced a composed drive to complete the 56 laps at the Circuit of the Americas in a performance which should have impressed the Toro Rosso team.
The 27-year-old Kiwi showed few signs of nerves while completing what he had described as a life-long dream. Hartley managed his fuel and tyres well, finishing ahead of three others on the track. Four additional drivers failed to finish.
Five drivers finished on the same lap as Hamilton, with Hartley among nine others to be one lap down.
A two-stop pit strategy worked well for Hartley, who offered no slip-ups and steadily improved his lap times.
Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost has hinted that Hartley is a chance of booking a full-time drive next year if he continues to impress.
Hartley expressed pleasure at his performance in a social media posting and hopes it will lead to more opportunities.
“Yes, that did just happen. It will take a couple of days to fully sink in, but it’s starting to already,” he wrote “With all things considered I’m happy with my F1 debut and keeping my fingers crossed I get another crack. Lots of boxes ticked and lots learnt.”
The race was staged exactly 50 years after New Zealand F1 great Denny Hulme wrapped up the 1967 world championship.
Hartley is the ninth Kiwi F1 driver and the first since Mark Thackwell 33 years ago.
Meanwhile, Hamilton’s comprehensive win was his ninth in 17 rounds this year and lifts him to the verge of a fourth championship title. His nearest rival Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) was second to retain a slim chance of overall honours. Hamilton’s Mercedes team are assured of winning the constructors’ championship with three rounds remaining.
-AAP and staff reporters