BREN­DON’S F1 DE­BUT

Motor Equipment News - - FRONT PAGE - ED SPEAK

What a won­der­ful coun­try we live in. Just when you think our list of top mo­tor­sport stars can’t get any longer, sud­denly we have been cat­a­pulted into the magic world of For­mula One, with the news that Palmer­ston North’s Bren­don Hart­ley has been of­fered, and has ac­cepted, a drive with the Toro Rosso team.

OK, it’s a one-off drive (for now) for the 27-year-old, and it’s a big ask for a guy who has not driven a sin­gle seater for some time, al­though, of course he’s been com­pet­ing in the World En­durance Cham­pi­onship in a su­per-fast Porsche. He was crowned world cham­pion in that series in 2015, and is lead­ing the 2017 series with two races left.

But back to F1, and word has it that he’s had to learn 50 pages of Toro Rosso’s driver man­ual in just a cou­ple of days – es­pe­cially how to nav­i­gate his way through the con­trols on the ul­tra-high tech. steer­ing wheel – and he wasn’t pegged for much prac­tice in the F1 car be­fore the race it­self.

He did get some time in the sim­u­la­tor, but as he has said him­self, it’s not like the real thing.

Hope­fully his race per­for­mance will have con­vinced Toro Rosso – or even Red Bull – to give him more rac­ing time in F1 so he can fol­low in the foot­steps of his child­hood heroes, world cham­pi­ons Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme. How good is Bren­don? He started his rac­ing ca­reer at the age of six, in karts. It’s a path taken by so many F1 driv­ers, in­clud­ing the great Michael Schu­macher. Karts led to For­mula Ford, and af­ter a series of wins there he dived into the deep end by mov­ing to Ger­many to race a two-litre For­mula Re­nault in the Ger­man and Euro­pean Championships, even­tu­ally be­ing crowned cham­pion in the 2007 World Series by Re­nault.

The fol­low­ing year he moved to For­mula three,and that move, and his con­tin­u­ing race-win­ning per­for­mances in For­mula Re­nault, put him in front of a lot of tal­ent scouts, es­pe­cially Red Bull, which signed him up. His first foray into F1 was back in 2008, as a test driver stand­ing in for the in­jured Mark Web­ber.

He be­came re­serve driver for Red Bull in 2009 and 2010, and in 2012 drove 87 laps of test­ing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team.

So he’s no stranger to F1 race cars. All he needs now is time and op­por­tu­nity. Go Bren­don.

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