Brendon Hartley has revealed how he landed a surprise Formula One debut with Toro Rosso with weekend.
The 27-year-old was previously part of Red Bull’s junior team but was dropped in 2010 while his fellow young drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vernge were promoted.
Hartley went on to land a place at Porsche’s LMP1 team in the World Endurance Championship where he has won both the title and the coveted Le Mans 24 Hours. But Porsche’s abrupt decision to quit the series earlier this year prompted him to get in touch with Red Bull.
“I didn’t 100 per cent see this one coming,” Hartley told the New Zealand Herald. “When Porsche announced they were stopping LMP1 I started trying to figure out where I would be next year.”
“One of the first calls I made was to Helmut Marko at Red Bull and I said if there was ever an opportunity I am ready now – I wasn’t eight years ago. He got the message but I didn’t hear anything for three or four months and to be honest this came out of the blue this last week.”
Hartley received a text message of support from James Amon, the son of long-time New Zealand F1 racer Chris Amon who died last year.
The 27-year-old said the experience of being dropped from Red Bull’s roster helped make him a better driver.
“It was a long time ago,” Hartley explained. “2010 was when I was cut from the Red Bull junior development program.”
“I went through a tough time. To put it bluntly I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t mature enough; at that point in my life I was enjoying my racing. For having gone through that I am a lot stronger.”
He admitted he is “a little unprepared going into next weekend without ever testing the car but on the other hand I absolutely feel ready.”
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