Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2018

Hartley surprised his seat was under threat early in season

2018 F1 season

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Brendon Hartley says he doesn’t enjoy the politics of life in Formula 1 and was surprised to learn his place at Toro Rosso was under threat a few races into the championship.

McLaren junior driver Lando Norris was tipped to replace Hartley early in the season. Hartley went into the final race of the season unsure if he would return for the team in 2019, but on the Monday after the race Alexander Albon was told he would take Hartley’ seat.

Hartley said he isn’t prepared to reveal the full details of what went on during his only full season in F1 but admitted “the politics, I don’t enjoy”.

“It took me some time to get used to the extra media attention,” he said in an interview for New Zealand’s Radio Sport. “I was definitely prepared coming into Formula 1 being involved in Porsche and LMP2 but I think the pressure definitely ramped up more than I expected in terms of being under the microscope a lot more. But I got more and more comfortable with that during the season.”

“There were rumours very early in the season which was a big surprise to me when I thought I’d signed a long-term contract,” he added, “[I] came off the back of a world championship, a Le Mans win and after just two or three races there were rumours and a lot of questions being asked around my immediate future.

Hartley says he is yet to decide what he will do next year.

“I’ve maintained a relationship with Porsche through all of this, I was with them for four years through the two world championships and Le Mans. My phone has been glued to my ear over the last week, a lot of emails. Not the perfect time of year to be sorting out a drive, coming into December, but I’ve got a good reputation and just trying to figure out what the right steps are and also what’s going to keep me happy.

“You will definitely see me doing something next year but it won’t be Formula One.”

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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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13 comments on “Hartley surprised his seat was under threat early in season”

  1. There would be a lot less “politics” if he was quick. That said I would love to smoke a bowl with him.

    1. @darryn Indeed there would. BTW, LOL for the last part.

    2. £10 says @darryn is either Jay or Silent Bob…

  2. I think they used him for the Honda engine development and mostly the hybride systems.

  3. be interesting if Torro Rosso had to buy out his contract or if there were performance clauses in there to negate a payout.

  4. be interesting if Torro Rosso had to buy out his contract or if there were performance clauses in there to negate a payout.

  5. After reading Mark Webber’s ‘Aussie Grit’ The way Red Bull/Toro Rosso operate really shows them to be utterly ruthless and pick favorites very early on between two drivers and give very little chance for the least favored driver to make any headway.
    I am sure he would have had a word in Hartley’s ear about the way the operate.

    1. José Lopes da Silva
      6th December 2018, 11:11

      Yes, because otherwise ultraprofessional sport in general and F1 in particular are very warmful environments. Senna was so nice while saying goodbye to Michael Andretti.

  6. The vile, mostly sarcastic, harsh, disgusting, inconsiderate and nonsensical fan base doesn’t help either.

    Oh wait, that’s me. Damn it!

  7. Didn’t think he was terrible but didn’t think he was particularly amazing either. Kind of anonymous and was totally shaded by Gasly. Given his history and records, I guess if Hartley was a little closer to Gasly over the season maybe Red Bull/Toro Rosso would have retained him but the gap between them was probably a bit too large at times. He’s got to be unhappy about that too.

    Seemed a nice guy and a good driver and probably could have done with another season to get used to the cars but Red Bull have never been known for patience.

  8. To be fair.. Two or three races in to the season it looked like Hartley wasn’t much of an F1 driver.

    It’s ruthless at the top of Motorsport. I just don’t think Hartley could cut it.

    1. I think people underestimate how hard it is to get to grips with the Pirelli tyres.. Pretty sure it was Gasly that said it took him most of a season to understand them when moving into GP2 (Check his results, no consistency till final 5 races of the season). Big ask for Hartley to do it in F1 and yet by the end of the season he was pretty close to Gasly. Had Hartley come directly from GP2 to F1 knowing how Pirelli tyres worked, I suspect he would have been good enough to at least keep his seat.

  9. After the races he did last year I don’t think anyone expected him to last more than this year. He was essentially an engine tester for Red Bull, job’s done so he’s out the door.

    He’s not an F1 grade driver, but I like him. Hopefully Porsche will pick him up for a GTE drive next season.

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