Mentor Kenny Smith confident Brendon Hartley will take Formula One deal

Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly of France walks

Japanese Grand Prix 2017- Suzuka Circuit Japan

Kenny Smith, who according to the New Zealand media source Newshub is Hartley's "mentor", thinks the driver will jump at the chance to race for Toro Rosso next weekend.

If Toro Rosso and Hartley can't successfully come to an arrangement, the team will look to Sebastian Buemi, who previously raced for the Red Bull Junior Team as well.

Having fielded Gasly alongside the departing Carlos Sainz in Japan, Toro Rosso will become the first team since Lotus in 1994 to run an entirely new driver line-up in consecutive Grands Prix.

Discussing his inclusion in next weekend's race, Hartley said: "What an incredible feeling!"

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Youngster Pierre Gasly, a replacement driver this season himself, has opted to skip the race in Austin to concentrate on winning the Asian Super Formula championship at the series finale on the same weekend.

Hartley is contracted to Porsche in the World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Hartley was not content with sticking around the F1 paddock as a reserve driver and began racing in endurance events in 2012 - the same year he joined Mercedes as a test driver.

New Zealand might be about to have its next Formula 1 driver. That could change within the next fortnight with Hartley, a previous victor of Le Mans 24, shaping as the strongest contender for the vacant Toro Rosso seat at next week's US Grand Prix.

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"He is one of those who is so competitive in everything he did, he wanted to be a victor - and that is what has given him the drive to keep on going".

"There is always time to go back to Indycars because he is still young".

"Brendon is coming as the reigning 24h Le Mans victor and he's also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well".

Honda, who will provide the engine power for the Faenza based squad in 2018, had also stated they would not stop Gasly from racing in the U.S., but would be happy for him to return to Japan if a replacement Formula 1 driver could be sought. "With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us".

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