Rumours continue to swirl about Brendon Hartley’s drive with Toro Rosso, following his struggle to put together a clean weekend in recent races.
The New Zealander, who is a two-time World Endurance Champion and Le Mans winner, has been involved in four crashes across the first seven events – while teammate Pierre Gasly has been a revelation, scoring 18-points to Hartley’s one.
It’s a crash-rate and points deficit that has allegedly put Hartley’s drive in question, with the team said to have approached McLaren for its reserve driver Lando Norris as a mid-season replacement.
And while McLaren refused to release Norris, a sign that he’s likely to become their race driver in 2019, Red Bull motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko said that Hartley’s seat would not be affected by his latest crash in Canada – where Williams’ Lance Stroll forced him into the wall.
"It was, I would say, a racing accident, and has nothing to do about his future," Marko said. "He will be in the car."
The pressure is now on for Hartley to have clean weekends through F1’s first-ever triple header in France, Austria and Great Britain, and show the potential he demonstrated in the last four races of 2017.
… when his experience, pure pace, economical use of fuel and technical feedback was said to be world class by team insiders.
For Hartley, this year has been a long time coming: having been dropped as Red Bull reserve driver in 2010 for a lack of results in the junior series, then working his way to an F1 race drive via success in sportscars.
And while the New Zealander knows just what he wants to achieve in F1, having announced his goals prior to pre-season testing, he now just needs a little bit of luck to get it done.
SOUNDBITE (English) BRENDON HARTLEY,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“Making it, you know, that's part of the dream - and now it's proving I deserve to be there and getting the performance I want and hopefully a few successful years to come.”