BREN­DON HART­LEY

New Zealand Classic Car - - Motor Sport Flashback -

On Oc­to­ber 13, a ru­mour came off the web­site of Bri­tish-based

Au­tosport mag­a­zine that Bren­don Hart­ley was in pole po­si­tion to take the va­cant seat in Toro Rosso, Red Bull’s sec­ond team. On the strength of noth­ing more than a wheeze, al­beit from a re­spected source, the phone started go­ing crazy. I no sooner had Tv-chan­nel Three won­der­ing if it could visit, when Ra­dio Sport asked if it was pos­si­ble to have a chat. I thought back half a cen­tury to when Denny Hulme won the world cham­pi­onship and it re­ceived scant cov­er­age here, ini­tially at least. Now, on a sniff, our me­dia were ex­cited — it’s a sign of just what For­mula 1 (F1) means today. In a flash, the ru­mour was con­firmed, and not only would New Zealand be cel­e­brat­ing hav­ing an F1 driver for the first time since 1984, but there was also even the pos­si­bil­ity that if this one-off drive in Austin led to a full-time gig for 2018, it would mean two of our nine ever F1 driv­ers would have been born in Palmer­ston North Hos­pi­tal — Bren­don and Chris Amon, and they’re both Le Mans win­ners. I write this be­tween the US Grand Prix and the Mex­i­can round, where Bren­don has been again se­lected, and he’s in for the rest of the year. His per­for­mance in Austin was solid — eighth­fastest lap in the race (close to a sec­ond quicker than his team­mate) and the week­end com­pleted with­out putting a mark on the car. He hadn’t raced an open-wheeler since 2012, and could barely re­call the last time he’d made a stand­ing start. Fin­gers crossed that by the time you read this, he’ll have been con­firmed to a 2018 con­tract — the signs are pos­i­tive.

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