Reigning Super Formula and Super GT champion Naoki Yamamoto will drive for Toro Rosso during opening practice for Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The Honda-backed, Japanese driver will replace Pierre Gasly for the first 90-minute practice session at Suzuka, which will mark Yamamoto’s F1 weekend debut outing.

Yamamoto holds a one-point lead in the championship heading into the season finale at Suzuka at the end of October as he looks to become a three-time champion in Japan’s top level of single-seater racing, adding to his 2013 and 2018 titles.

The 31-year-old holds enough points to qualify for an F1 superlicence thanks to his 2018 triumphs in Super Formula and Super GT and has also driven Toro Rosso’s simulator - as well as spending time with the team at a number of races in 2019 - ahead of this weekend.

Yamamoto described the opportunity to drive an F1 car in front of his home crowd as a “dream”.

“My main aim in FP1 will be to do a good job for the team, gathering data and information which will be useful for them over the weekend,” Yamamoto added.

“On a personal note, I want to enjoy the experience of driving an F1 car as much as possible and I will be trying my very best to get the most out of it.

“It will be a special moment and I’m glad I will get to share it with the fans at this amazing race track, where I first watched Formula 1 cars in action 27 years ago.”

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost said: “We are very pleased to have a Japanese driver here in Suzuka driving our STR Honda, and we are sure that Naoki san will enjoy the laps in FP1 on one of the greatest race tracks in the world.

“He is a talented driver, being the reigning champion in Japan's two most important race series, and he also knows the Suzuka circuit very well.

“Naoki san has spent several European races as part of our team this year, getting to know the engineers he will work with this weekend and he has also spent time in our simulator.

“I am sure that all the fans in the grandstands will enjoy seeing a Japanese driver taking part in the Japanese Grand Prix weekend."