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Hartley: I feel ready for it

NEWS STORY
14/10/2017

Despite providing F1 with three of the sport's most legendary drivers, in the shape of Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme and Chris Amon, New Zealand has barely been mentioned in the years since. Indeed, the last time a Kiwi started a Grand Prix was 33 years ago, when Mike Thackwell contested the 1984 Canadian Grand Prix in the Skoal Bandit RAM.

All that changes next weekend however, when Brendon Hartley lines up on the grid in Austin in the Toro Rosso, the 27-year-old having been brought in to replace Pierre Gasly who is on Super Formula duty in Japan.

Unceremonially dumped by Red Bull in mid-2010, Hartley dabbled in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP2 before finding his niche in Sports Cars, winning the 2015 World Endurance Championship and looking set to repeat the feat again this year, as well as claiming victory in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours.

Ahead of his F1 race debut, Hartley admits that while he is thrilled to finally be making it on to the grid, he still feels a little nervous.

"I feel ready for it," he told NZME, "honestly, I feel up to it. I am excited.

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit nervous," he added. "I didn't really expect to get another opportunity.

"I hadn't given-up but part of me thought it was going to be tough. I guess this story shows you never should give up and dreams can come true. It is all cliche what I am saying but that is the truth of it, that is how it has happened."

Ever since the announcement, Hartley has been inundated with messages of support, but one in particular stood out.

"There are all these things I am trying not to think of, but am very aware of.," he said. "It's going to be really special to me. When I line-up on that Formula One grid for the first time I am sure there will be quite a few emotions.

"I am really proud that I can fly the flag. I had a text from Chris Amon's son, James, saying how proud Chris would have been and that just means so much to me.

"I teared up a little. I knew Chris really well."

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1. Posted by sunny, 14/10/2017 13:32

"What are TR/RB going to do about the need for a driver to have driven 300km in an F1 car in the last 4 years? "

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