Toro Rosso has confirmed that WEC racer Brendon Hartley will take over from Piere Gasly in Austin as the latter will stay in Japan to contest in the Super Formula finale, with Daniil Kvyat returning to the team as well.
The 27-year-old Kiwi used to be part of the Red Bull driver programme having done tests for Toro Rosso in 2010 and serving as Reserve driver for both Red Bull outfits.
He was dropped in 2011 and has since gone on to win the 2015 WEC title with Porsche and the 24 Hours of LeMans race this year.
His last time in an F1 was back in 2012 with a test for Mercedes at Magny-Cours.
“What an amazing feeling,” said Hartley about making his F1 debut.
“This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1.
“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.
“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.”
Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost said:
“Brendon is coming as the reigning 24h Le Mans winner and he’s also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well.
“We are really happy to have him back in our team. With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us.”