22 Oct 2017

Hartley finishes 18th fastest in qualifying

11:53 am on 22 October 2017

New Zealand race car driver Brendon Hartley has finished 18th fastest in qualifying at his Formula One debut in the US Grand Prix in Texas.

The Kiwi driver in action for Toro Rosso during practice for the US Grand Prix.

The Kiwi driver in action for Toro Rosso during practice for the US Grand Prix. Photo: Photosport

The 27-year-old Toro Rosso driver will start from the back of the grid though due to penalties for a power unit change his team was forced to make between the last Grand Prix in Japan and Texas.

Hartley just under a second slower than his Russian teammate Daniil Kvyat who will start in 12th.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton claimed his 72nd pole position after finishing fastest this morning while Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel came in second to keep the pressure on the Mercedes driver.

Earlier Hartley cut a second off his fastest lap time in the third and final practice session.

The 27-year-old finished 15th fastest overall, 2.34 seconds behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Hartley completed 69 laps during the two practice sessions yesterday, more than a race distance and more than any other driver as he adjusts himself to the single-seater.

Whatever his grid position after qualifying this morning, the New Zealander will be starting at the back due to an engine switch he inherited as a result of being a late replacement for absent Frenchman Pierre Gasly.

Meanwhile bad weather in Japan dashed the man Hartley's replaced this week - French driver Pierre Gasly's hopes of winning the Japanese Super Formula title.

A typhoon set to hit the Suzuka circuit today forced the cancellation of both races, leaving Gasly half a point behind new champion Hiroaki Ishiura.

The Frenchman is expected to return to Formula One for the remaining three rounds after Austin and to take on a regular race drive in 2018.