Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

2018 team mates battles: Gasly vs Hartley at Toro Rosso

2018 F1 season review

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Brendon Hartley was told he had to do one thing to secure his place in Formula 1 next year: Beat Pierre Gasly. He’s lost his place at the team for next year, so does that mean he failed?

Mercedes provoked uproar when they imposed team orders on their drivers during the Russian Grand Prix. But for Toro Rosso, instructing their drivers to change position almost became routine.

This was despite a notable cock-up in China, where Gasly ran into the back of Hartley while his team mate was supposed to be letting him through. Gasly maintained the team sided with him over the collision, claiming Hartley let him by at the wrong point on the track. Hartley had many more chances to practice letting Gasly through as the season went on.

It became a bitter point of dispute in the final races as Hartley desperately tried to cling to his seat. Gasly let him by when ordered to in Austin, but afterwards the pair rowed over whether Hartley had only beaten Gasly because the latter’s car was damaged. “Despite what it says in the press release there was nothing wrong with the other car in the race,” said Hartley.

The next time Gasly was asked to let Hartley through, in Brazil, he refused for lap after lap. Afterwards Gasly insisted, fatuously, that Hartley should have overtaken him if his car was quicker. China surely demonstrated the importance of choreographing such moves.

But at this point in the season the writing appeared to be on the wall for Hartley anyway. His one-lap performance was better than the qualifying score-line made out, but it was in the races that Gasly pressed home his advantage.

In Bahrain the team hit a set-up sweet spot and Gasly capitalised brilliantly on a spate of retirements ahead to score fourth place. At the time it looked like a sign of things to come, but the team’s performances since then served to underline how well Gasly had done.

Hartley grabbed his first point in Baku, though only after Gasly was hit by Kevin Magnussen at a restart. It took Hartley until round 11, Germany, to follow up that 10th place with another. But even then at the very next race Gasly delivered another excellent result with sixth, opening a wide points margin between the pair.

While Hartley undoubtedly had raised his game by the end of the year, it wasn’t enough to overturn a punishing defeat to Gasly on the championship scoreboard.

Whether he was far enough away to deserve the boot while the team brings back Daniil Kvyat, whom Carlos Sainz Jnr beat by an even wider margin last year, is a debatable point.

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Pierre Gasly vs Brendon Hartley: 2018 Toro Rosso team mates performance comparison

Season scores

Who was ahead?

The table below shows at which races Gasly qualified or finished in front of Hartley:

Pierre Gasly Q

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Quotes: Dieter Rencken

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “2018 team mates battles: Gasly vs Hartley at Toro Rosso”

  1. I think it’s fair to say that I was underwhelmed with both Toro Rosso drivers this year. If Gasly is the superstar that Red Bull want him to be; he should have beaten Hartley more convincingly than he did. If Hartley wanted another season; he should have beaten Gasly more often. What we ended up with was a strange middle ground where Gasly was clearly better, but not by enough to make me really excited by him (except for two strong races..).

    Few (including me) would argue that Hartley is worth another go, but Albon/Kvyat isn’t a line up that makes me overly excited in truth.

    1. I agree with you, but there’s still hope in Gasly delivering, if only due to the way Danny Ric came into Red Bull. He and JEV were reasonably close at TR, but I’m sure the team have no doubts after giving him the nod.

    2. @ben-n

      he should have beaten Hartley more convincingly than he did. If Hartley wanted another season; he should have beaten Gasly more often.

      Agree completely. Gasly’s first half of the season was incredibly strong, especially his performances in Bahrain and Hungary. I thought Gasly would trounce Hartley for the rest of the season, but instead Hartley started matching his performances pretty often and occasionally looked like the better driver, but not often enough to be warranted another season.

      I don’t think I expect much of Gasly next year. If he can avoid getting painfully embarrassed by Max, it should be mission accomplished for him.

  2. I think if Hartley was 21 he’d have been retained, but a 29 year old getting a 2nd season in a development team after failing to pull up trees in his first season wouldn’t have made much sense. I’ve read elsewhere that Kvyat might be back because he’s a known quantity (for better or worse) so that Albon has a benchmark in a “If you can’t beat Kvyat then you’re gone” kind of way. Given that both of these drivers are on their 2nd chance with Dr. Marko.

    1. Yes, that sounds reasonable, ricciardo left so at this point they only have a star: verstappen, if gasly isn’t at ricciardo’s level they need another ricciardo quality driver at red bull, so at least they have to beat kvyat, even if he gets back to his 2015 level.

  3. I don’t know if it’s the light or the angle, perhaps both, but the picture looks like posed miniature models, to me. It just looks that little bit off that something in my brain goes “That’s not quite real”.

    1. I think it’s the surface, because I totally get what you mean

      1. It’s the surface. It looks a little too granular .. kind of like it’s zoomed in.

    2. I would suggest it is taken with a seriously high quality camera and the sharpness of detail does indeed make it look unreal somehow.

    3. that’s because only the car in front is in focus and pretty much separated from everything else around it, so it gives you the impression that is popping out of the picture

  4. Of course, Gasly was clearly the better out of the two overall especially in points although Hartley faced quite a few points-losses due to things out of his control, nevertheless, overall, he didn’t impress enough to earn another season in the team.

  5. As to the very fair final remark: yes, I think it is deserved. Kvyat has more talent than Hartley, I will wager (raw talent, whatever). His GP3 season suggests he has more than Sainz. He was just mentally broken. Apparently a year at Ferrari has done wonders. We’ve heard that before, but a confident and stable Kvyat is a worthy addition to F1, and a potential race winner. Happy he’s back. And I know that I am in a minority here.

    1. @hahostolze Really gp3 suggests Kvyst has more talent than Sainz? Since when gp3 is a reliable measure of such things? Gutierrez must be a world beater then… One swallow does not make a summer and similarly one season Kvyat was better than Sainz does not mean he’s a better talent. And maybe Kvyat is a better talent than Hartley, I don’t know. What I know for certain is that Kvyat got multiple chances in F1 while Hartley only got one and even that wasn’t a fair crack with all the problems that were not his fault that he had had.

      1. @montreal95 Gutierrez is a perfect example, because it’s well documented that people across F1 thought Gutierrez was the second coming, but he never managed to adapt to the power and throttle immediacy of F1 (already had issues in GP2). It’s why some karters never leave karting, why some drivers never shine in F1. Not a matter of talent, more of adaptation and patience. Gutierrez was a world beater. So I don’t see why, even with F1 being the pinnacle, you can blithly state that one’s record in one category is superior to another.

        1. @hahostolze Thanks for proving my point. As you clearly state, the fact that Kvyat was better than Sainz in gp3 doesn’t say that he is a better talent for F1. The only thing it proves is that his driving style was better suited to Gp3. And you still haven’t answered why Kvyat deserves a fourth chance while Hartley with all the problems outside of his control that he had had doesn’t deserve a second.

          1. @montreal95 that didn’t prove your point at all. If Kvyat is faster in nine out of ten formulae, who is more talented? Yes, F1 is the pinnacle, but it may well be that talent can still be extracted, and I’d much rather root for the person with the most raw talent that needs nurturing than someone with 95% of that talent who can access it straight away.
            Also, it’s not my place to answer why Kvyat deserves a fourth chance and Hartley doesn’t deserve a third (not second, he was dropped from Red Bull, don’t forget). That’s up to Red Bull. But I can, as above, easily explain why someone who is younger and probably has more intrinsic talent gets another go, especially if they’re convinced that this person can finally fully access his talent.

  6. It always felt to me that Hartley was biting more than he could chew from the beginning. Looking at these raw numbers he hasn’t done as bad as I thought, but that I feel is more a testament of Gasly’s skills and a combination of being both their rookie years.

    Regardless, Hartley isn’t good enough for F1 and there is a reason why he was set free from the program.

    1. @johnmilk And yet 2 other drivers who were set free from the program are gonna drive for Toro Rosso next season…

      I think Kvyat got. more than enough chances in F1 and with the multiple problems outside of his control that Hartley had hadthis season I think he deserved at least one more chance to prove himself.

      1. @montreal95 they are running low on talent, they went through them like I do through wine, hardly surprising

        1. @johnmilk That may be true. The talent that they really wanted is Tictum who hasn’t got enough superlicence points. But the question was Hartley vs Kvyat specifically. I don’t think replacing Hartley with Kvyat is deserved and fair. he’s got more than enough chances imo.

          1. @montreal95 that’s definitely a fair point of view, and honestly when I first commented I wasn’t thinking of next year’s drivers.

            Agree with you on Ticktum, however I feel a season in F2 would be better for him. Albon on the other hand while not setting the word ablaze, seems to be improving year on year

          2. @montreal95

            I thought Kvyat wasn’t bad at all in his rookie season, 2015 and in 2016 up until he was dropped. After he was dropped though.. that’s a different story. Kvyat definitely had the speed and talent, but his race craft and consistency were always a bit of a question mark.

            Hartley on the other hand, didn’t show any speed, talent or race craft. He was consistent though.. consistently slow.

  7. Hartley seems to me to be a good, solid, reliable pair of hands at the wheel who gives good feedback and has a far more stable personality than a lot of the drivers on the grid.
    Unfortunately he lacks something. Drive, ambition or aggression? I don’t know just what but he isn’t ever going to set the world of F1 alight.
    Even in a Merc or Ferrari I suspect he would be getting beaten by Kimi and Bottas every race.
    Great guy but not cut out for F1.

    Gasly seems like a bit of a self worshipping loose cannon to me – just like Max – those two in the same team next season should be a lot of fun.

    1. @nullapax

      Unfortunately he lacks something. Drive, ambition or aggression? I don’t know just what but he isn’t ever going to set the world of F1 alight.

      He just didn’t seem confident or hungry enough. I think he felt out of his league way too often. He might be a great driver in other series but he just didn’t seem like an F1 ready driver to me.

  8. I think it’s also fair to suggest that the age of the respective candidates came into the frame. With Ricciardo moving to Renault, the junior team is now older than the main Red Bull team. The years when they fielded David Coulthard and Mark Webber seem a way off now!

    Of next years Red Bull drivers, Verstappen is the youngest; Gasly and Albon are a month apart and Kvyat is two years older. Hartley is 4.5 years older than that. Perhaps that counted against him, in favour of the far younger Albon; who suits the word “junior” far more than 29 year old Hartley.

    (It still makes me sad to talk about Grand Prix drivers who are far younger than me… given that I used to make replica helmets out of paper and dream about being on the grid myself. Is it too late!?).

  9. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
    3rd December 2018, 16:16

    Wasn’t that impressed with either…
    Gasly often seemed panicky on the radio and made his mistakes. I also found him to be somwhat inconsistent. He was quite good at times, but I doubt he’ll be able to do as well as Ricciardo did ar RB. Hartley was really dissapointing

    1. Not to mention Gasly’s behaviour didn’t cover himself in glory a few times through the season too. Throwing the toys, benefitting from team orders and not reciprocating. The jury is out on his character. His final tally is better than it would have been if all things were equal, and similarly Hartley’s worse.

  10. There seems to be an inconsistency with the way the race results are being interpreted in this comparison. My understanding is there were only 10 races where Gasley and Hartley both crossed the finish line or were classified as finishing, not 12 as suggested in the “Finished Ahead” statistic (8 + 4 =12). Of those 10 Gasley finished ahead 6 times (BAH, HUN, BEL, SIN, JAP, MEX), and Hartley finished ahead 4 times (AZE, GER, US, BRA). According to the table, Gasley finished ahead at China and Monaco, which is true, he did, but that was because Hartley retired from those races. Hartley also retired at CAN, OST, BRI, ITA, RUS, but there is a hyphen placed on the table at those races.

    1. @drycrust
      Well actually, this was consistent (unlike with the STR-SIR comparison). Like you said 6-4 in which they both finished, but also 8-4 if you also include the ‘retired but classified’ – ones.

      But this whole way of ‘measuring’ fails big time.

  11. Personally I think they should have never released Jean-Eric Vergne. And I always thought Alguesauri was pretty decent at the time.

  12. Have said previously that Hartley was at Torro Rosso as the insistence of Red Bull / Honda. They needed a development driver with thousands of laps developing the Porsche hybrid, a driver who had helped Mercedes setup their simulator, a drive that could provide sound engineering feedback.

    Torro Rosso begrudgingly accommodated Hartley and backed him just enough to get the Red Bull / Honda required feedback. I see more of a Red Bull / Honda versus Torro Rosso clash on driver choice with Torro Rosso told who to use as a development driver for Red Bull / Honda instead of letting Torro Rosso choose a young racing driver.

    Honda’s thanks to Hartley reflect this, whilst Torro Rosso very late and begrudging thanks shows their lack of enthusiasm for having Hartley foisted upon them.

    Whilst not the fastest driver, Hartley did what he was asked to do and Red Bull / Honda performance next year will reflect his contribution to the cause.

    Gasly is too much of a prat to make a serious racer (as opposed to a fast racing car driver). Example of this was in the Mexican GP with Hartley just ahead. Hamilton comes through as leader and Hartley moves over to answer the blue flag. Gasly overtakes Hartley and checks him up to let Hamilton pass.

    No complains from Hartley as by then he knew the writing was on the wall, he had no support from the pits anyway so why bother to argue the toss.

    Between the two I see Harley carrying on a racing career well into later life due to his attitude, technical ability and a certain level of pace. Gasly not so much. Verstappen will burn him off and out of F1. After which, who would employ a prat to drive their cars?

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      3rd December 2018, 18:41

      Perfect assessment all round I think

    2. Yes, the official thanks to Brendon from the top people at Honda was something I had noticed too.
      It does surprise me that Toro Rosso weren’t more proud of how important their development role was, after all a great Honda engine will make for a great season of racing.

    3. I think you hit the nail on the head.

  13. I think Max will destroy Gasly next year. I think it’s too early for him to move up.

    1. Yeah i completely agree. I haven’t really seen much from Gasly to suggest he will compete well with Max. Could be a long year for him

  14. Just as a sidenote; I thought Honda’s goodbye message to Hartley was very nice and sounded really well-meaned and sincere, as opposed to Toro Rosso’s standard “thank you & lots of luck in your further career” statement.

  15. I think most of the assessments over the 2 drivers are spot on. Gasly lacks the mentality and consistency to Drive to Red Bull, and Hartley was dependable, reliable, but lacked a bit of edge. Gasly will have a hard time at Red Bull

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