Hartley in the running for 2018 Toro Rosso drive and US GP debut

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In the round-up: Le Mans 24 Hours winner Brendon Hartley could make his F1 debut with Toro Rosso at the United States Grand Prix as the team consider who will be their drivers for 2018.

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Niki Lauda addressed the question of how far F1 should pursue safety. Racingdave gives a view on how to strike a balance between safety and spectacle:

Track limits need to enforced by the consequences exceeding them – not decided by stewards. Cars and drivers should not be micro managed – limit info to when they pass the pits. Disconnect them from the factories with FIA/FOM-supplied monitoring equipment in the garages (one terminal for each system) great cost savings right there without impacting car design – easily controlled and monitored too.

Tyres should be harder and every team should have free choice of what run and when. They also should wear out not degrade as that’s proven to be stupid. I never want to hear Max Verstappen asking permission to give it the beans

Snap driver decisions in the face of danger make F1 and when they pull it off they become heroes. When crash you realise how brave they are.

Make cars bulletproof, the tracks a tightrope and cars’ handling on knife edge.

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  • 51 comments on “Hartley in the running for 2018 Toro Rosso drive and US GP debut”

    1. We (fans) need to think twice before we ask for something.
      According to the COTD there should be less car to pit/factory monitoring, as this will save cost and puts more responsibility back in the hands of the driver.
      But every time a front contending car breaks down discussions erupt about the impact on the WDC and who would have been champion with more reliability.
      And that seems the cue to go back to 2016 and all other years in which fans believe their driver lost out due to car reliability.

      1. A lot of the time, it seems to be based on a fantasy about what the world was like in the past – often one where the role of technology is erased from memory because it conflicts with a desire to attain some sort of mythical “purity” that never existed and never can exist.

        I also agree that a lot of these measures only seem to be popular when somebody thinks it won’t hurt their favourite driver and, in a number of instances, smack of wanting to turn the sport into a crashfest.

    2. Cotd is nice and well.. But has a major flaw. All these suggestions will decrease performance. Teams can and will work around an even more costly solution.

      Bulletproof cars, reduced telemetry etc.

      There is no way engineering teams will sit idle back at home race. And making cars more bulletproof is expensive, just ask Honda.

    3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      13th October 2017, 8:48

      If your going to assess an ex-Red Bull related driver, I would have said Frijms or at least Da Costa should get the nod. However after watching Hartley outclass the entire field in the Petit Le Man’s on Saturday, going from a lap down to leading in the space of a stint, he is definitely a man at the top of his game, and they are right to put him in for a race if they are genuinely looking to replace Kvyat for ’18

      1. I still think da Costa is one of the best drivers to have missed an F1 seat in recent years… I would love if by some miracle he could be in the Toro Rosso! But is he actually still part of the RB family?

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          13th October 2017, 12:07

          Absolutely. And he showed he still has it at Macau last year by blitzing the juniors in a random Carlin F3 appearance.
          He still has the RB logo on his helmet in Formula E like Buemi, so it would appear he’s still connected to the RB family to some degree at least. I don’t think Hartley is connected at all anymore though, so it’s open season for the seat on the face of it

          1. @fullcoursecaution, is it really surprising that a driver who has the advantage of at least half a decade more experience than most of the field he was racing against ended up having an advantage (not a big one mind, given that Illott finished less than a second behind him)?

            1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
              13th October 2017, 23:31

              Yes and no I would say anon. Certainly Da Costas wealth of experience was a big factor, but as the majority of his competitors had been in F3 machinery all year, it’s a valid achievement in my book

        2. @gordess I won’t say he isn’t a great driver, he is, but I can’t help but feel that a lot of people are blinded by his excellent second half of the season in FR3.5 in 2012, and cannot look past it. He could drive without the stress contending for the title brings as he knew he wouldn’t win it that year anyway. But looking past that, the years before and the year after that he didn’t do enough. Not good enough in GP3, not good enough in FR3.5 against Magnussen and Vandoorne.

          Looking at his contemporaries, Robin Frijns did more in less time. Frijns would really be my pick for Austin. For me he’s the biggest loss in recent years.

      2. @fullcoursecaution Frijns was never part of the Redbull program.

        There was talk of RedBull being interested in him as he won three junior championships on the throt (Formula BMW, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 3.5 World Series) but he said in the media he turned it down because Redbull treats their young drivers like ‘dogs’. I guess Kvyat would agree haha

        1. Imagine had he signed he probably had to risk his life driving a STR/RBR F1 cars like Kvyat does.

          He’ll be happy not being treated like a dog ;)

          1. @jeffreyj I didn’t link properly but you can click the quotes to be directed to the article :)

    4. Hartley has emerged as the frontrunner to drive at Austin,

      I do hope this opportunity to race in F1 actually comes about. It would be very sad if it fell through because of some legal wrangle.

      1. I thought Hartley was a good driver since I saw him at Spa in GP2 in 2011. I’d be happy to see him have his début rather than Toro Rosso continuing their trend of hiring a younger, less experienced junior driver each time.

      2. I wonder if Porsche would stop this possibility? They have let him drive for other manufacturers before and Red Bull are definitely still one of his personal sponsors so they’d be up for it. He has got to be pretty confident with his own abilities the way he has been performing lately so the time is right for the kiwi! Talk of a Ganassi contract too mean very exciting times for Brendon.

    5. Ah, the topic of men vs women is doing the rounds again.

      The issue here is you have 3 camps. Camp 1: Men are superior because of some spurious biological and evolutionary reasons the people making the proposition barely understand. Camp 2: Men and women are equal and it’s just the result of social constructs that discriminate women from playing on a level playing field because that’s a nice idea they feel is true and any science that contradicts it be damned.

      Finally camp 3: A reasonably open-minded acceptance that men and women may or may not be equal and there is insufficient evidence to assume that either argument has to be inherently true.

      People keep arguing their side of the argument based on ideology rather than any concrete evidence, the simple fact is there aren’t enough female racing drivers to form a valid comparison. What would help settle that though would be the introduction of a female series to begin with, just to remove the barriers. If there are female drivers out there who are just as fast as Hamilton or Verstappen no team in their right mind would ignore them. Let the stopwatch settle the argument.

      1. Agreed.

        I would speculate that more little boys go to their parents and beg to go karting than little girls (disclaimer: total guesswork, no statistics!). This would mean a smaller “pool” of female racing drivers to begin with. Based on what I’ve seen across junior categories, I’d suggest that the male to female ratio is probably around 40:1, which may even be a little generous. I think the reason we don’t see more female Formula One drivers is simply because there aren’t enough to choose from and the ones that are there aren’t better than the all males they are outnumbered by.

        As you say, if a female destroyed a lower category in the same way as, say, Lando Norris has this year, I have no doubt that they’d be drafted in as quickly as you can say “Bernie Ecclestone”; for sponsorship and PR reasons if nothing else. Personally, I’d welcome that.

        As it is, the closest we’ve really had recently is Susie Wolff (I’m sure this was nothing to do with Toto being a Williams shareholder…) and the frankly woeful Carmen Jorda.

        I wait patiently – it will happen one day…

        1. @philipgb @ben-n This is a vast and deep subject which I’m only going to scratch the surface of. But I saw a fascinating experiment in a programme on the BBC recently which is relevant to this.

          They took a series of toddlers and gave them some toys to play with. The children chose toys pretty much at random – dolls, cars, whatever – irrespective their gender.

          Next they had the children dressed in clothes which disguised or confused what gender they were, and brought in an adult who did now know the child to play with them. They found the adults encouraged the children to play with toys which they considered appropriate to their assumed genders: e.g. they gave dolls to boys who has been dressed as girls.

          All of which makes me think the question of how well women are represented in F1 has less to do with it or even motor racing in general, and is more about society’s attitudes towards gender in general.

          1. Risky discussion ;) , but happy to throw in my bit.
            Leading scientist have long said and proven that it’s more nurture than nature, and that there is more diversity within a gender than between genders!

            But people prefer to read self help books like ‘Men are from Mars, ..’ rather than a scientific dissertation.

            1. @Egonovi

              That’s not true, actually. You can’t fully prove it either way, since you can’t raise anyone without nurture or without nature. Any scientists who claim that it’s proven that it’s more nature than nurture or vice versa are talking out of his behind.

              It is pretty much proven that nature plays a role, because we see gender differences already in babies and in monkeys. For example, babies and monkeys prefer different toys depending on their gender.

              Finally, ‘more diversity within a gender than between genders’ is only relevant when you talk about averages. It is perfectly consistent with extreme outliers (like the people who can run fastest) being exclusively men.

      2. @philipgb – I work in computing where there used to be a lot of women; but the corporate culture changed in the eighties and nineties and now women are a rarity. (Lack of) nurture and not nature, I think.
        I read some US Navy research which suggests that female pilots are, on average, physically tougher and mentally more stable than their male counterparts. But there’s not much in it and there are so few female pilots that it’s hard to get meaningful stats. There was evidence of a lot of bias against women though, so maybe only the really tough ones got through training.
        NASA research suggests little difference between male and female astronauts; women report space sickness slightly more frequently but suffer from a pressure-based visual impairment less often than men. NASA notes that women cope with high-G situations slightly better, possibly due to different blood-flow behaviour in the legs.
        Upshot: In high-stress, high performance areas, research finds little difference based on sex except the numbers – there are not very many women to study. And that’s the real question – why the difference?

      3. Camp 2: Men and women are equal and it’s just the result of social constructs that discriminate women from playing on a level playing field because that’s a nice idea they feel is true and any science that contradicts it be damned.

        There is nothing to suggest that they wouldn’t be equal, so unless I see some evidence to the contrary why would I think otherwise? It’s not a ‘nice idea I feel is true’. The end of your sentence suggests there is evidence that people like me are already ignoring. I’d love to see it.

    6. I’ve often said that I’d love Formula One to have more ‘guest drives’, welcoming successful drivers from other categories, former F1 drivers or local favourites. I think it really adds something extra to the weekend, like when Button returned in Monaco, or Di Resta being drafted in at Budapest. I’d like to see that buzz and intrigue most weekends.

      It’ll be a spectacle to watch whoever races the Toro Rosso in Austin, especially as they could seemingly be battling against Kvyat for a race seat next year. I hope it is Hartley; I remember him flirting with F1 at the same time as Ricciardo entered and can’t totally remember why he didn’t get a shot then. Still – it’s nice to see older rookies. It’d also be good to see Buemi given another shot, especially as I believe he’s still listed as Red Bull reserve.

      1. @ben-n It’s one of those ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’ cases for me. Sure it’d be great to have star drivers from other series making guest appearances. But whatever rules you created to allow that would just be used by a top team to bring in an extra driver to help their title contender or hinder a rival.

        Instead of having Haas bringing in Kurt Busch to do the US GP we’d have Mercedes running someone like Nick Heidfeld to put another car between Hamilton and Vettel. Is that really what we want?

        I think the core problem is there’s so few spaces on the grid to begin with.

        1. @keithcollantine – totally agree that it’s probably never going to happen, for the reasons you’ve listed. I think I added a forum topic a while ago about whether it would be a good idea and how it could be implemented. I think my favourite was that each team could nominate two races a season to run a third car with a guest driver, with the last race off limits… or something like that!

          Indeed, the issue to address is the lack of space, especially when you have top teams continuing to employ drivers like Raikkonen who clearly aren’t at the level of Vettel, for example. I’d welcome 3 more teams (though the last time that happened it didn’t end too well) in the same measured approach that Haas took to joining the grid. I have faith in Ross Brawn and Liberty to gradually return the sport to how it should be.

          1. @ben-n @keithcollantine — The only way this works (imo) is to have a separate race during the weekend in spec cars (BMWs, cup Porsches, Miatas, etc) featuring the F1 grid and a few guest drivers. It wouldn’t have to be included every race weekend, maybe just a few times per year. It could even be done at tracks that have a shorter configuration or could be run backwards.

            Of course some drivers might balk at being shown up (spec cars) by drivers from worse F1 teams. There would also be the safety risks/concerns (if someone pulled a Kubica during this sort of race).

            If they could get past the excuses/reasons to not do something like this, I think it would increase interest on Fri/Sat and would be something that fans would like to see.

        2. Aside from the space in pits issue, I think it would be fun if teams could run guest drivers in a third car. To minimize teams from using this to their advantage to win the WDC/WCC, guest racers wouldn’t get any points, nor add to the constructor’s tally.

          Let’s say there’s a race, and the guest driver finishes second. In this scenario, the next ‘regular’ F1 driver that finished would get the points for a second place finish.

          One of the larger struggles with this concept is that the current aero wake/tire durability prevents close racing. Putting more drivers on the track, where it’s already complicated enough to pass would only make it worse.

          1. This sounds great! I’d like to take it a step further and suggest that the current F1 grid perform a support race in pedal cars (or soap boxes) pushed by women. The winning woman having demonstrated her ‘cojones’ gets to drive in the ‘host’ manufacturer’s car in the Grand Prix. In one fell swoop we solve the pre-race spectacle and ‘women in F1 conundrum.

      2. @ben-n, the other issue is what would happen if that guest driver unintentionally ended up getting involved in the title battle – for example, if they mistakenly ended up colliding with a driver fighting for the title and, in the process, ended up tipping the title fight in favour of one driver or another?

        Imagine if you had a repeat of, say, the clash between Schlesser and Senna in the 1988 Italian GP – an event where he was reportedly still being grief from some quarters more than 25 years after that race – but, in this instance, actually changing the outcome of the WDC? I expect that the backlash from the fans would be particularly harsh.

        1. I’ve seen that mentioned when I’ve brought it up before. Personally I don’t see this as being any different to any other driver getting mixed up in it. What’s to stop, say Ericsson wiping out Vettel by accident?

          1. @ben-n, if you were a driver racing in an event for a one off race though, there is the aspect that the stewards can’t really take any effective action against them if they were involved in such an incident.

            Running with your theme, in the case of a driver like Ericsson, he would be aware that he would be risking his place in the sport by inviting potential penalties from the stewards and disciplinary action by his team. By contrast, what effective action can the stewards take against a driver who is only competing for one race and therefore isn’t likely to care about, say, a grid penalty that he’ll never have to take?

            We sort of saw that situation with Button in the Monaco GP when he substituted for Alonso – he’d kind of stopped caring once it was clear he was going to be starting from the pit lane, and reportedly didn’t really care about the consequences of taking Wehrlein out of the race (a grid penalty that he will never serve).

    7. This whole Toro Rosso thing is bizarre. They dropped Hartley years ago, found him not good enough. Now he’s back. Why? Red Bull has really done some weird things with their juniors. Hartley is (in my mind) not the best of the ones they dropped. I don’t know what they’re doing.

      1. From memory, Hartley wasn’t dropped because he wasn’t good enough, he was dropped because of a falling out with Herr Marko. I vaguely recall Christian Horner being none too pleased that he was dropped.

      2. He was dropped because he baulked when told how to style his hair. It wasn’t his driving.

    8. haha..Just because Carmen Jorda isn’t good enough, does not mean “women” in general arent good enough!

      1. @jaymenon10 ok, then name a woman who is faster in a formula1 car?

    9. I have mixed feelings about the COTD. For example, the tyre part: they’re already very durable, so why would they need to be even harder than they’re now?

    10. Seeing Hartley or Buemi in the second STR would be fantastic. Hartley in particular is someone who I feel should have been given a crack at F1 and, given the lack of credible candidates in the Red Bull Junior programme behind Gasly, it would be great to see him getting the drive.

    11. I think it’s bonkers that Toro Rosso are going to field someone who has zero experience in this years cars just because they were part of the academy years ago. As admirable as his efforts were in Hungary, di Resta showed that simulator experience (which I beleive Buemi has) doesn’t really make up for the real thing.

      They’re currently in a constructors battle with Haas and Renault and have sent the best of the three drivers they’ve fielded this season to one of those rivals. Surely it would make sense to get someone who has recent experience in the current cars to at least try and hold onto the lead they have. Granted that only really leaves Giovinazzi (who’s contracted to Ferrari) and Palmer (who isn’t very good) but surely both those options are better than chucking someone who’s never participated in a full weekend.

      1. @davef1
        Presumably whatever financial deal Honda had with McLaren is now going Toro Rosso’s way, so perhaps they’re no longer too worried about their constructor’s position this year (certainly doesn’t make any sense for them to release Sainz otherwise).

        1. i guess there’s a deal between Renault scoring more points as a result of signing Sainz, to compensate the loss at TR.

        2. @george, Honda have indicated that Toro Rosso will only get a fraction of what they paid McLaren – the figures being bandied about are $15 million in sponsorship, plus free engines – as they’ve said that they’ll be putting most of that money into their engine division instead.

          Now, judging by the payouts from FOM for the 2017 season (based on the teams performance in 2016), dropping from 6th place to 8th place in the WCC cuts the payout by about $12 million (based on McLaren, having finished 6th in 2016, getting $31 million and Haas, finishing 8th, getting $19 million – https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/revealed-formula-1-team-payments-for-2017-903197/ ).

          Whilst the blow would be softened by free engines, if Toro Rosso did drop back down to 8th in the WCC – which is quite plausible given the small difference in points – then the $15 million they might get from Honda would probably be wiped out by the loss in revenue from FOM.

    12. Unsure if there are any other New Zealanders on here bar me, but I am really hoping Hartley gets the drive! Definitely good enough. Was unlucky to be dropped by Red Bull back in the day. He had a huge work load and was racing in multiple series which didn’t exactly help. An anxious but exciting few days waiting for the TR driver to be announced. Come on mate!!

    13. I know it won’t happen but would be cool if STR put Alex Rossi in the car.

      It’s probably going to be a one off for whoever gets the the drive so why not put an American driver in for the American Gp. He also has fairly recent F1 experience which none of the Red Bull backed drivers been talked bout have.

    14. IMO Gasly should go to Austin instead. Yes, he has a chance to win the SF championship, but it’s far from given that he will indeed achieve it, so if he fails to do so, then he could start to regret the decision to skip the US GP in favour of a series that has been more or less just a ‘stop-gap’ solution for him anyway.

    15. Given the difficulty Ferrari are going to have finding a home for Antonio Giovinazzi next year (probably only one spot at Sauber, which will go to Leclerc)… I’m surprised Red Bull haven’t had a nose around at seeing if they can pull him over into their programme.

      Seems like a ‘might make it’ sort of driver who’d be perfect alongside their other ‘might make it’ guy, Gasly, next year.

    16. I’m sorry, but the COTD doesn’t make a lot of sense. The number of computers and internet connections from the race to the factories is not a cost driver. Where is the great cost savings? It will leave dozens/hundreds of workers idle, but won’t cut their salaries. Put a cap on staff numbers if that is your cost savings goal. But again, race day staff is not the reason F1 is expensive.

      Dumbing down the cars (no telemetry) was already essentially tried, with no radio transmissions about anything substantive, and reversed. It led to lost positions and failures that could have been averted with simple information.

      Allowing teams to use whatever tires/tyres they want, whenever they want has already been said to increase costs. F1/Pirelli would have to bring hundreds and hundreds more sets of tires to every race weekend and throw away what isn’t used. Besides, teams already essentially choose the tires they want. The choice system isn’t perfect, but it is as close as it needs to be. Tire choice is not the problem with F1.

      Finally, all tires degrade as they wear. If for no other reason than less rubber (due to use) means less mass, applying the same heat/friction input into a reducing mass will generally cause tires to heat more and wear faster.


      As a tangent, the reason tires are even an issue (as they are much better than the past few years) is that pit stops are the limiting factor. In a race with a 20sec pit delta–as an example–your tires need to be slowing you down more than 25-30sec or more in order to make a pit stop worth it. Changing tires needs to provide you more time than it takes to pit, plus more time than you expect to lose having to pass those who jumped you while you were in the pits. In many cases (and I would wager in most cases) an extra pit stop is not worth it unless you direct competitors are close to you and have pitted.

      A lot of people throw stones whenever the idea of refueling is brought up, but if it was brought back, there would be reason to push. Pit stops would be more frequent and tires get changed when you come in as fuel is the limiting time factor, not tires. Some will say that all the passes were done in the pits. The only difference to now being, there are fewer pit stops. DRS passes would happen regardless. And the few passes for position that occur now could still occur just as easily except cars would be on low fuel, probably much fresher and softer tires, and the drivers could push because the penalty is not so absolute. By that I mean, everyone will be pitting more, so if you push hard and burn through your tires, you haven’t ruined your race by adding a pit stop that no on else will take, you just change your next stint a bit.

      F1 as it currently exists is WEC-light. It’s a 2hr endurance race rather than 6, 12, or 24. And I don’t think tires are the biggest issue or that refueling is a panacea. But, if people think that tires are a significant problem (like COTD), this is one way to address it.

    17. Complete idiocy by Carmen Jorda. Essentially saying that the reason she’d so crap is that she’s a woman (but ignoring women who have proved to be far more successful due to actually being talented). And yet ironically a women’s only championship would likely see her still languishing at the back.

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