While Monday brought good news for Alexander Albon, it also delivered bad news for Brendon Hartley who is out of Formula 1 after being ousted to make way for the Thai driver at Toro Rosso next year.
Hartley simply did not deliver when he was given a second crack at Toro Rosso late last year and a full season this year. The WEC world champion with Porsche failed to come to terms with driving on the limit without traction control.
By his own admission, he had to re-teach himself to drive but did not do enough to impress Red Bull management to keep him on. Nevertheless, Honda have shown their appreciation for the likeable Kiwi.
Honda’s F1 technical chief Toyoharu Tanabe said in the wake of Hartley’s final F1 race in Abu Dhabi, “Everyone at Honda enjoyed working with Brendon throughout the year. He was very strong on the engineering side, always giving very precise and useful feedback, based on his great experience working with hybrid power units and as a double world champion and Le Mans winner in LMP1.”
“That feedback accelerated our development in terms of set-up work, which helped us progress over the course of the year. Thank you Brendon and we wish you all the very best for the future.”
Honda motorsports GM Masashi Yamamoto was equally grateful, “On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my thanks to Brendon for all his hard work this year. Brendon is always a friendly and charming person who immediately embraced Japanese culture and Honda’s way.”
“It gave everyone at Honda so much power and confidence in what we were doing this year after several difficult seasons. I particularly remember when he qualified sixth at our home race in Suzuka. That meant a lot to Honda. We will miss him and wish him all the best for the future.”
Clearly, Hartley made friends and influenced people at Honda but that was not enough to convince his paymasters (or anyone for that matter) that he is the real deal for Formula 1. In a nutshell, he had not impressed enough by the time decision.
Hartley leaves F1 with four points scored this year, with tenth place in Azerbaijan and Germany and ninth at the United States Grand Prix.
Big Question: Did Brendon do enough to deserve a seat for another year in F1?