Hartley: Toro Rosso exit was 'in motion' at Monaco

  • 30 Jan 2019 13:23
  • comments 5
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Ex-Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley has opened up on his Formula 1 departure following the 2018 season. The Kiwi competed for the Red Bull junior squad through the year, having made his debut towards the end of the 2017 campaign.

Hartley failed to mirror the results of teammate Pierre Gasly, who was subsequently promoted to Red Bull after Daniel Ricciardo announced his departure. However, the WEC champion was hit with some poor luck throughout the year.

Rumours early on in the season indicated that Toro Rosso was hunting McLaren junior Lando Norris, and was hoping to bring him in on loan. Hartley's future post-season was in major doubt, and it was then announced that he had been ousted in favour of Formula 2's Alexander Albon.

"An hour [after the race], I was summoned to a meeting," Harltey wrote in The Players' Tribune. "And a few minutes after that, I was no longer an F1 driver. In the meeting there wasn't much said. It was clear to me then that from as far back as Monaco there was a plan in motion to move me on."

Hartley claims that he started to hear about his exit rumours at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, and was horrified on the Wednesday before the weekend that "the worst part of that day was finding out there was some truth to the rumours".

"I walked back to our apartment that night looking at the walls of the Monte Carlo circuit, knowing that, if I binned it, if I made contact with those walls this weekend, my F1 career might end in a few days.

"I knew every practice session carried more weight for me. Every lap time, every result was going to be under scrutiny and could be used against me to leverage my seat."

Hartley admitted that he will miss F1, but couldn't help feeling a little ill-fated after a season of "hitting birds, being taken out on the first laps, engine penalties, suspension failures and other issues that weren't always mentioned in public".

"I will miss it," said Hartley. "I'd be lying if I said otherwise. The F1 door is definitely not closed and the experience gained from a year at the top of the sport means I will arrive more prepared and stronger for whatever opportunities come next."

Replies (5)

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  • I like Hartley, but can anyone honestly say that this was surprising or controversial? Toro Rosso usually hires young drivers, he was always a filler because their academy is drying up. Hartley was never great on track. Even if he was Toro Rosso is notorious for screwing up careers, even if your’re a great driver. Finally, Hartley failed to mention the juiciest part of that conversation he had, so this story is... nothing

    • + 0
    • Jan 30 2019 - 15:28
    • Hartley seem like a nice fella, but I only really saw him as a stopgap to fill up the 2nd place. IMO, he was bound to get dropped, he just doesnt look like F1 material to me. What did the article leave out by the way?

      • + 0
      • Jan 30 2019 - 18:51
    • @calle Not the article, but Hartley. He didn't mention what was discussed with the team that made him say "I was not longer an F1 driver." Was he threatened? Was he told he would be replaced? Because I remember Hartley vehemently defending all season that he was comfortable with the situation and was very careful to not even suggest that he might not be there next season. At any rate, I think Hartley will be happier and better fitting in other categories.

      • + 0
      • Jan 30 2019 - 20:09
    • The latter, I think. I dont really see Marko committing to executing failed drivers by intravenous Red Bull energydrinks (TM)-injections quite yet (besides, the rigs and locale isnt ready yet), so I think the "I was no longer an F1 driver" was an expression of hopelessness. I think Hartley, like most drivers, held up an optimistic front before the peanut gallery, while the real talk was behind the scene. There is a lot of pressure on these junior programme drivers, and we only ever get to see a fraction of it. :/ And I agree, Im sure he'll do better somewhere else. Far away from anything red and bullish.

      • + 0
      • Jan 30 2019 - 21:23
  • boudy

    Posts: 1,045

    I had a lot of time for Hartley. He came across as a decent human being. His year in Toro Rosso was filled with bad luck but there were some moments that he could have gotten better results. Either way most of the drivers don't make it to F1 but he did and it sounds like he did enjoy it. Good for him.

    • + 0
    • Jan 30 2019 - 17:23

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