Hartley: Early exit rumours were a 'big surprise'

Published on 06 Dec 2018 11:34

Brendon Hartley says that he was left surprised following the early season rumours regarding his potential replacement at Toro Rosso. The Kiwi joined the Red Bull junior team towards the end of 2017 and saw the season out with it.

Despite a tough stretch of Grands Prix that saw him receive a grid penalty for every one of his four 2017 starts due to an excessive amount of engine components used, Hartley was retained for 2018 alongside Pierre Gasly. 

However it wasn't long before his position was under question. Toro Rosso reportedly approached McLaren, asking it to loan its junior driver Lando Norris for the remainder of the season. Stoffel Vandoorne was also linked with the drive.

After the conclusion of the 2018 championship, Toro Rosso announced that Alexander Albon would join Daniil Kvyat for 2019, with Gasly joining Red Bull. Hartley says that he is not a fan of the political side of F1, admitting the series brings a lot more pressure.

"It took me some time to get used to the extra media attention,” he revealed 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," he continued. "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. 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."

Before joining Toro Rosso, Hartley had signed a deal with Chip Ganassi Racing to race for it in IndyCar. Hartley says that his 2019 plans have not yet been finalised, but affirmed that he would be racing somewhere.

“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 1.”

Replies (6)
Posts: 4
He's is one of the top sports car drivers, so he will find a great place to drive and great team/series to drive for/in.
US ajpennypacker 06 Dec 2018 18:140
Posts: 1404
Nothing is surprising with Toro Rosso these days, and drivers need to come to grips with that reality. Toro Rosso may axe you or talk about axing at any point during the season, for a valid reason or no reason at all. You will be hung out to dry regardless of how many year you put into the Red Bull program. I think it's the worst junior program from a driver's perspective. Yes, it has produced good talent, but it has wrecked more careers than it has launched (in F1). I don't see the other F1 junior driver academies act this way.
SE calle.itw 06 Dec 2018 18:330
Posts: 5636
Indeed, Vergne was a great example of that. Talent just dumped on the street because something younger and hipper were up for grabs.
US ajpennypacker 06 Dec 2018 21:320
Posts: 1404
@calle and it's not even the getting dumped. That part makes sense. You either make it to Red Bull or you get let got. The problem is the fashion in which the dismissal takes place. With Marko running his mouth on the departing driver's performance. No help from the team in placing the driver with other teams. Because of the restrictiveness of their contracts, drivers can't really talk to much to other teams, so astonishingly, when pretty good Toro Rosso talent gets let go, they NEVER (correct me if there is an exception) manage to find another drive on the grid. Sainz is almost a good example, except he was on loan to Renault (because Red Bull forced it, not by choice).

Anyway, I just kind of hate those guys right now. I predict that their talent pool will continue to dry out. The very fact that they have Kvyat and Albon says it all.
US mcbhargav 06 Dec 2018 22:090
Posts: 727
They seem like they dont care. But, the talent out there seems to notice their practises. All major players started providing more competitive alternatives to Redbull junior programs now a days. So, its hardly surprising for me, to see that, they do t have more of Vettels and Verstappens in their purse.
Posts: 185
Nice guy yes, missing raw speed a bit yes. RBR gives young talent a change for sure but F1 is highly competitive and he is not a young driver anymore, hope for Hartley Porsche has a seat for him in 2019.
Excuse me but Mercedes has the worst junior program by far not one talent made it, at least Ferrari and RBR has Max and LeClerc as future W.C. now just the car and its over and out with Mercedes and the end of the boring processions as both Bottas and Hamilton miss raw the speed when the car is not by far superior.

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