Sacked Hart­ley: I’ve been bet­ter and didn’t en­joy pol­i­tics of F1

The New Zealand Herald - - Super Sport -

Kiwi driver Bren­don Hart­ley has opened up for the first time about his exit from For­mula One.

Hart­ley was sacked by Toro Rosso last week when the team an­nounced Alexan­der Al­bon, who fin­ished third in For­mula Two this year, would be the new driver to team with Daniil Kvyat for the 2019 sea­son.

With Hart­ley’s 2018 team­mate Pierre Gasly pro­moted to the Red Bull For­mula One team there seemed a chance the Le Mans win­ner and World En­durance cham­pion would race for a sec­ond full sea­son.

But after fin­ish­ing the sea­son 19th in the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship, out of 20 driv­ers, with just four points and a ninth-placed fin­ish at the US Grand Prix his best of the sea­son, the 29-year-old’s de­par­ture wasn’t a huge sur­prise.

“I’m in a pretty good place. I’ve def­i­nitely been bet­ter,” Hart­ley told the Mike Hosk­ing Break­fast on New­stalk ZB yes­ter­day.

He told Hosk­ing he’s in the process of work­ing out a new drive for 2019 but it won’t be in For­mula One.

“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.

“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 li­cence, I have hands-on For­mula One ex­pe­ri­ence, I def­i­nitely didn’t dis­grace my­self and I def­i­nitely wouldn’t say that door is closed.”

Toro Rosso’s han­dling of Hart­ley’s de­par­ture seems on par with the team’s per­for­mance in For­mula One this sea­son. No men­tion has been made of the Kiwi’s exit on the of­fi­cial Toro Rosso web­site with his pro­file quickly re­moved.

Hart­ley wasn’t keen to open up of the re­ported dra­mas be­hind the scenes at Toro Rosso.

“I would love to tell the story one day,” he told Hosk­ing. “The pol­i­tics I don’t en­joy. It took me some time to get used to the ex­tra me­dia at­ten­tion. I was def­i­nitely pre­pared com­ing into For­mula One 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.”

Hart­ley said he felt he’d done enough to con­tinue his role at Toro Rosso.

“There were ru­mours very early in the sea­son which was a big sur­prise

to me when I thought I’d signed a longterm 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’ and 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.

“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.”

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