23/10/2017

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MARK THOMPSON/ GETTY IMAGES

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Brendon Hartley (right) rubs shoulders with Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the US Grand Prix

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Brendon Hartley is satisfied with his Formula One debut which gave his chances of future drives in Formula One a shot in the arm in the United States on Monday morning (NZ time).

Hartley finished 13th in the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, in his first drive at the elite level for the Toro Rosso team.

It was an impressive finish for the 27-year-old, who found his pace late in the race improving his starting position from 19th to 13th.

In a statement after the race, Hartley described his debut as an amazing experience.

"It's all starting to sink in now and it won't be until I go to bed tonight and put my eyes at rest that I'll start to process everything," Hartley said.

"There's been lots of challenges, lots of things to learn and I hope I get another shot at it to put all these experiences into practice. I've enjoyed every single moment of this race weekend and I'd like to thank the whole team for this, it's been amazing."

Twenty drivers started the 56-lap race which was won by British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton extended his lead in the driver's standings, but Sebastian Vettel came in second to ensure the championship leader could not lock up the title yet.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen turned on the drive of the day as he went from 16th to fourth.

It had looked like Verstappen would get a spot on the podium when he pulled off a final-lap overtaking move on Kimi Raikkonen, only to be handed a five second penalty after the race for leaving the track during the passing manoeuvre.

Engine issues saw four drivers fail to finish in Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and Pascal Wehrlein.

With Pierre Gasly set to return to drive for Toro Rosso in Mexico next week, Hartley is in a battle with Danill Kvyat for a seat.

Kvyat, who was Hartley's teammate in Texas, finished the race 10th.

In a positive for Hartley, his best lap (1 minute 39.979 seconds) was faster than Kvyat's best of 1 minute 40.971. In fact, Hartley regularly managed faster lap times over the final 15 laps.

After qualifying in 18th, Hartley starting the race in 19th once all penalties were taken into account - Hartley was forced to serve Toro Rosso's 25 grid spot penalty for installing a new power unit in his car, exceeding the limit for changes in a season.

But he got off to a poor start with Stoffel Vandoorne overtaking him by the first corner.

"I didn't do the best of standing starts, but it's been a long time since I did one of those," he said.

While there was a tussle at the top of the order, Hartley stayed out of trouble at the back.

His early lap times consistent, but he appeared understandably conservative considering he had not raced single-seaters since 2012.

He was the first driver to pit on the eighth lap as the team changed to super-soft tyres.

As other drivers dropped out, he was able to move up the field where he ended in a good battle with Canadian Lance Stroll, who like Hartley once drove in New Zealand's Toyota Racing Series.

"I was in many battles and I'm satisfied with my race – the pace was pretty strong, especially at the end. I think the only small mistake I made was getting overtaken by Stroll a quarter into the race, as I couldn't pass him back and he held me up a bit," Hartley said.

It was not until his second pit stop in the 36th lap when he found the confidence to test his limits.

From there he consistently set times in the 1-minute-40-second range.

When Kevin Magnussen went off the track after contact from Marcus Ericsson, who picked up a five second penalty for the move, Hartley lifted himself from the bottom.

Hartley piled the pressure on Ericsson and eventually overtook the Swedish driver before reigning in Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

The next stop on the F1 circuit is the Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico City next weekend.

UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX

1 Lewis Hamilton; 2 Sebastian Vettel; 3 Kimi Raikkonen; 4 Max Verstappen; 5 Valtteri Bottas; 6 Esteban Ocon; 7 Carlos Sainz; 8 Sergio Perez; 9 Felipe Massa; 10 Danill Kvyat; 11 Lance Stroll; 12 Stoffel Vandoorne; 13 Brendon Hartley; 14 Romain Grosjean; 15 Marcus Ericsson; 16 Kevin Magnussen; DNF Nico Hulkenberg, Pascal Wehrlein, Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo.

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