New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley has reportedly emerged as a front-runner to drive for a Formula 1 team in the United States Grand Prix before accepting a full-contract for next season.
According to Autosport, Hartley is the leading contender to drive for Toro Rosso in Austin in a fortnight with regular driver Pierre Gasly returning to Super Formula on the same weekend in an attempt to try and secure the title.
Toro Rosso team Principal Franz Tost reportedly wants to use next the race as a chance to evaluate a new driver to add to next year's roster and while Gasly remains a favourite to retain one of the team's cars, the other is currently up in the air.
The 2017 Le Mans winner has emerged as a front-runner to gain the US Grand Prix audition after years as a reserve driver and time in the junior programme with the Red Bull team.
However, acquiring the Kiwi will require some ironing out by the Italian Formula 1 team - the 27-year-old is currently contracted to Porsche in the World Endurance Championship - a competition he could win this weekend with a solid performance in Fuji.
Hartley's signature is also reportedly being chased heavily by IndyCar team Chip Ganassi for next year's series where he could race alongside fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon for the same organisation.
New Zealand's last F1 driver was Mike Thackwell who raced in 1984.