2015 WEC Champion and reigning Le Mans 24 Hour winner Brendon Hartley has been confirmed as the surprise stand in for Toro Rosso at the US Grand Prix. At 27 years of age and a former Red Bull junior driver, Hartley has spent the past few years plying his trade with incredible success over in the World Endurance Championship for the factory Porsche LMP1 team, securing a World Championship alongside Mark Webber in 2015, Le Mans 24 victory earlier this year and is the current leader of the WEC standings with just three rounds remaining until the end of the season. Hartley has been on the periphery of the Formula One scene for several years having originally started out life under the wing of the prolific Red Bull driver programme, securing success in junior formula and setting out his stall as a very talented driver capable of taking his talent all the way to the top of the motorsport ranks. Having had seat time as test driver for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso in years past, Hartley found himself unceremoniously dumped from the Red Bull programme in 2010, leaving the New Zealander to make a name for himself in prototype endurance racing, despite returning briefly to Formula One testing duty for Mercedes in 2012, his last time behind the wheel in a Grand Prix machine. Having won his last World Endurance Championship race very recently at the Circuit of the Americas track, Hartley is full of excitement and confidence for the race ahead whist remaining keen not to set expectations too high ahead of his much delayed Formula One 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. “I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull for making this a reality, and to Porsche for allowing me to do this alongside the World Endurance Championship. 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." With Porsche involvement in the World Endurance Championship soon to evaporate, Hartley may well be looking to put himself in the frame for a full time drive with Toro Rosso next season, something that many in Grand Prix circles would have thought rather far fetched at the beginning of the year. Whatever happens, it will be nice to see a driver who truly does deserve the opportunity to take part in a Formula One Grand Prix finally get his moment in the sun at the United States Grand Prix later this month. For more from the top tier of motorsport check out our Formula One sub forum here at RaceDepartment. Do you think Hartley is the right choice for Toro Rosso? Can the NZ driver make a significant impression in Austin? Let us know in the comments section below!