Brendon Hartley had an unexpected crack at Formula 1 with Toro Rosso last year but did not do enough to keep his place on the grid beyond this year, however, the New Zealander admits he is not sure why he got the boot despite having a long-term deal with the team
Speaking on Newstalk to Mike Hosking, Hartley summed up, “I’m in a pretty good place. I’ve definitely been better.”
Hartley, a double WEC world champion, is well respected and received a warm tribute from Honda for his efforts last season. A possible return to Porsche through their Formula E programme is apparently an option he is considering.
Red Bull is a well-known nest of polemics for drivers, a fact that Hartley alluded to during the interview, “I would love to tell the story one day. The politics I don’t enjoy.”
Of his future, he said, “Still trying to figure that out. 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,” revealed the 29-year-old.
Hartley has previously said that he has unfinished business in the top flight, and said of a return to F1, “I would never say it’s closed. Ten years ago when that door was effectively shut, I’ve proven that it’s possible to open it again.”
“I’m now in a position where I have a Super license, I have hands-on Formula 1 experience, I definitely didn’t disgrace myself and I definitely wouldn’t say that door is closed. ”
“It took me some time to get used to the extra media attention, but I was definitely prepared, coming into Formula 1, being involved in Porsche and LMP2.”
“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.”
It was no secret after the summer that Hartley was in jeopardy, some predicting his ejection by Singapore, but this did not transpire and more than once he told media how it came as a surprise to me that his seat was in jeopardy.
He recalled, “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. 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.”
“I’m happy with how I handled that. I feel under the circumstances other people could have potentially cracked and I actually came out much stronger because of it. I fought, I evolved through the season. There were articles in the press saying: he needs to improve and beat his teammate.”
“Actually and the end of the season I really felt on top of my game, built great relationships with Honda, all the staff at Toro Rosso and I was consistently out-performing my teammate. I’m really proud of how I handled the situation and how I improved during the season.”
“It was particular easy after seven years away from single-seater racing but I was very comfortable with the job I was doing at the end of the year. What I will say is Formula One is very complicated, there’s a lot of money involved, politics and some of the reasons why drivers stay or leave isn’t always in your control or of reasons for pure performance.”
“In any case I left the paddock with my head held high. I knew I’d given it my best shot this year. I knew that I’d stepped up to the plate when I needed to.”
“There are so many fantastic experiences I take away from the season. Driving the fastest Formula One cars that the world has seen, maybe the fastest ever. There’s a lot to be proud but I did feel like I had more to give in Formula One.”
The record books will show that Hartley started 25 grands prix, nine times he suffered DNF and scored four points in total, his teammate during this time Pierre Gasly scored 29 points and was thus promoted Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen.
Next year Toro Rosso have opted to give Daniil Kvyat another crack at the big time, with Thai rookie Alexander Albon in the sister car.