Brendon Hartley, Toro Rosso, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2018

Toro Rosso won’t decide Hartley’s future before Abu Dhabi

2018 Mexican Grand Prix

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Toro Rosso has not made a decision on the future of its driver Brendon Hartley, despite reports during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend claiming the team has chosen to replace him at the end of the season.

RaceFans understands from Helmut Marko, who is in charge of Red Bull’s junior driver programme, that no decision will be taken on their line-up for the 2019 F1 season until after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Responding to a question from RaceFans, Hartley said he was not aware of the report claiming he will lose his seat at the end of the year, which originated on a German television channel.

Hartley’s place at the team is known to be under threat as Toro Rosso is considering alternatives to him as a team mate for Daniil Kvyat next year. Alexander Albon, the former Red Bull Junior Team member who had been announced as one of Nissan’s drivers for the forthcoming Formula E season, has been linked to Hartley’s seat.

Marko has publicly told Hartley he needs to raise his game and start beating team mate Pierre Gasly to keep his place. In Mexico, Hartley and Gasly disagreed over whether Gasly’s car had been damaged when Hartley finished in front of him at the previous race.

Hartley finished 14th in Mexico after collecting a penalty for tangling with Esteban Ocon, which also left him with a damaged floor.

“I flatted-spotted on lap one which was a big part of making the day pretty tough for us,” he said. “I effectively did a one-stop strategy completing one extra pit stop for nothing because it was on lap one.”

“We definitely had the pace to be in the points today,” Hartley admitted. “But the flat spot on lap one was very costly.

“Without the contact within Ocon and the damaged floor I think potentially the place on Marcus [Ericsson] was possible because we had fresher tyres and I was putting a lot of pressure.”

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2018 F1 season

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “Toro Rosso won’t decide Hartley’s future before Abu Dhabi”

  1. Yeah, lets see if we can keep him quiet until no one is watching.

    1. looks like it to me as well, yeah.

      1. Typical STR/Red Bull way: shabby towards their to be discarded driver – as you both say @bascb, @OOliver

  2. Alexander Albon? I admit it is the first time I see his name connected to a F1 team (and it’s been a long time that he was part of the Red Bull family)…

    1. It was mentioned even before the Formula E testing began, and it got louder when he did not have a test run despite having been announced as a driver for Nissan @bakano.

    2. @bakano they are looking everywhere, it is said here in Portugal that da Costa was also contacted but they wanted him to bring some money as well. Antonio has a contract with BMW where he is actually paid to drive and it seems that he didn’t want the hustle. Probably that is the approach they went with for some other drivers as well.

      They could try to poach Ocon, but apart from Mercedes, who surely doesn’t want to give him away to a rival, the heir of the Merc seat would probably consider himself too good for the team anyway.

      Ticktum is also out of the equation, as he failed to win the F3 championship, and if they had to bring Kvyat again it is easy to reach the conclusion that they don’t know where their next driver is at the moment

      1. They could try to poach Ocon, but …, the heir of the Merc seat would probably consider himself too good for the team anyway.

        @johnmilk – LOL, I can totally see that happening: “Drive for Honda’s moving testbed? No way!”

    3. I think if they don’t give Albon the drive, then Red Bull have truly shafted the lad. They’ve turned his head after he’d already committed to FE.

      I can’t see him racing for Nissan now. All Nissan are doing is holding out for compensation.

  3. They’ve already made their mind up, several races back most likely. He’s a goner.

    1. I’m rather inclined to think you are right. Now that Sharko is upset even more (with HAR’s comments about GAS…), and has muzzled HAR, it now seems HAR won’t be officially dropped until the last moment, to prevent him getting a drive anywhere else – nothing if not vindictive, RedBull. Remember how VET was treated after declaring he was leaving.
      RedBull act as if they want drivers to be put on 6 months gardening leave… :-)

      1. Much the same way Ricc has been treated with all those magical engine and parts failures.

        If it were Hamilton, the accusation would have flown many races ago.

      2. How was Vettel treated after he announced he was leaving Red Bull? Just curious to see what the conspiracy theorists are up to these days.

        1. I’m sure it would be much easier for you to Google it – the record is there, and has nothing to do with you’re accusation. Just curious why you’re being lazy… ;-)

    2. Agree, I read the headline as “we have already decided not to retain Hartley and will announce it after the last race”.

  4. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    30th October 2018, 11:30

    We’ve seen a steady improvement in his performances over the year. He’s hot on Gasly’s tail most of the time now. It was always going to be a longer process for Brendan to adapt to Formula One having spent so long in other categories. I’d like to see him get one more make or break season.

  5. Which means that he has two more races to show he’s worth.

  6. Hartley hasn’t done enough to justify a drive, never understood why they signed him at all, probably cos he’s very cheap. Kvyat was a better driver for them

    1. Oh really? In his debut last year Hartley was lapping 1 second a lap quicker than Kyvat once he found his groove in the second half of the lap. He also had the 8th fastest lap time on his debut
      He’s been on the receiving end of poor decisions and bad luck this year, he starts pulling his head in and beating Gasly and people still think he is slow, perhaps watch the entire race and evaluate it rather than look at the end result then make a summation.

  7. he was ahead of Gasly’s nose in the last two races. He was asked to beat Gasly, (Ocon contact aside), he has done.

  8. We definitely had the pace to be in the points today,” Hartley admitted. “But the flat spot on lap one was very costly

    So why not change the tyre? I know it would have cost 20 – 25 seconds, but when you know you won’t be in the points with what you’ve got, why not change?

  9. One more year, give him a chance I say.

    He knows he had to perform, game on.

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