From GrandPrix 247

New Zealander Brendon Hartley will race for Scuderia Toro Rosso at the next round of the Formula 1 World Championship, the USA Grand Prix in Austin, as Pierre Gasly will be racing in Japan for the last race of the Super Formula Championship in Suzuka.

Brendon last tested with the team back in 2009. Eight years later, he will be taking part in his first Formula 1 Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas, alongside Daniil Kvyat.

Since his last outing with Scuderia Toro Rosso, Brendon has gained experience in many different categories, including the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, GP2 and various sports car series’. In the last three years he successfully raced the LMP1 Porsche in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

In 2015 he was crowned WEC Champion alongside his teammates Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard. In June this year he won the prestigious 24h of Le Mans race and he’s currently leading the 2017 WEC Championship, with three rounds to go – the next one being the 6 Hours of Fuji, in Japan. After that, he’ll travel to Texas for his first F1 race weekend… A well-deserved reward that has been eight years in the making: never say never!

Brendon Hartley: “What an amazing feeling! This opportunity came as somewhat of a surprise, but I never did give up on my ambition and childhood dream to reach F1. I have grown and learnt so much since the days when I was the Red Bull and Toro Rosso reserve driver, and the tough years I went through made me stronger and even more determined.”

“I want to say a huge thanks to Red Bull for making this a reality, and to Porsche for allowing me to do this alongside the World Endurance Championship. COTA is a track I really enjoy and one I have raced at recently. I’m trying not to put too many expectations on my F1 debut, but I feel ready for it,” added Hartley.

Franz Tost: “Scuderia Toro Rosso is very pleased to announce that Brendon Hartley, who has been part of the Red Bull family for a long time in different classes, as well as the test and reserve driver for Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso, will now be back racing for us in Austin.”

“Brendon is coming as the reigning 24h Le Mans winner and he’s also leading the current FIA LMP1 World Endurance Championship, which he won in 2015 as well. We are really happy to have him back in our team. With all the racing experience accumulated over the years, we are convinced that he will do a fantastic job for us,” concluded Tost.


I like this kid – I recall when he was a reserve driver for F1 Red Bull Racing a few years back, but if I’m honest I can’t quite recall what his pace was like at the young driver shoot around that time. What I do remember is when he was picked up by Porsche and he has not looked back ever since. He clearly has the pace in Porsche’s 918 hybrid WEC monster and most recently the prototype cars that ran in IMSA at Road Atlanta – he won by the way, in his class and overall.

So the question becomes, if Hartley did not make the right impression to his Red Bull bosses last time around, (he missed out to Daniel Ricciardo for the seat at Torro Rosso), will he at the very least hold his own this second time around? Not puttering around at the back of the queue or making some bad rookie move that sees him get pushed off the tarmac and into the sand or worse, a retirement? I hope not and for a number of reasons, not least of which is due to the fact that I love a good comeback. Hartley the Comeback Kid … it has a nice ring but back to the point.

I am hoping this driver shows that with a bit of time he has developed the pace that is necessary to run with Formula 1’s best and therefore show that he was mis-evaluated the first time around. It would show (at least) to me that the system by which Formula 1 chooses its drivers is somewhat flawed.

By the way, how the hell do managers and teams actually evaluate whether a driver has it or doesn’t have it? Do you know how many drivers were “evaluated” and then promoted to a race seat in F1 only to not be there the next year, or even by the end of the current year they were in??

Look no further than Renault and Jolyon Palmer. Replaced before the end of this 2017 F1 season, effective immediately. Daniel Kvyat also has been replaced and most likely will not be in F1 next year.

In Palmer’s case he is a GP2 champion, F1’s feeder series, and as for Kvyat, he is also a champion – GP3 and Formula Renault not to mention he was highly rated by Red Bull and actually made it to their A team only to be demoted back to Toro Rosso and had to sit out a race to make room for another Red Bull young driver on the rise, Pierre Gasly, we’ll see how long he lasts but that is for another post.

Look, I grew up watching the likes of Carlos Reuteman, Clay Regazzoni, Mario Andretti, and Alan Jones. Later on Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, and Ayrton Senna, and after that Michael and Mika – these drivers all looked like men not eighteen year olds. I have nothing against the Alonso’s or the Vettel’s or the Verstappen’s that get fast tracked to F1 before they are twenty – they were ready, simple as that. Good for them and good for F1.

But what ever happened to honing your skills, refining your race craft, maturing a bit as a driver and a person before entering that crucible of professional sports where the pressure is like a vice grip and the demand to deliver the goods is very, very real and never abates. Is that what we should expect from all teenage race car drivers or athletes ???

Today, if you’re not fast by the time you’re eighteen, well kiss that F1 dream goodbye and in F1 there are no second chances, except in Hartley’s case there now will be and that is why I am gong to be focused on him and his performance more than anyone else’s all weekend long.

I have written before on this blog that I am an underdog kind of guy. Always have been and always will be and in the upcoming USGP in Austin, Brendon Hartley will most definitely be the underdog. I am going to be pulling for him to not only beat his teammate, which coincidentally is the already mentioned ‘on his way out’ Daniel Kvyat, but to also beat the Haas boys K-Mag and Roman and the Renault boys, the Hulk and newly signed Carlos Sainz Jr. who’s seat Hartley is filling as well.

If that happens, all bets are off and this kid deserves to be in F1 or at the very least another look. How that would actually happen I’m not too sure but Red Bull should really consider him for a permanent seat in the Toro Rosso squad.

A few posts ago I mentioned Tom Brady and his incredible comeback at last year’s Super Bowl. Did you know Brady was not a first round draft pick? He was not a second rounder or a third. Brady did not get picked in the fourth and was still waiting at the end of the fifth round. It was not until the SIXTH round.  Brady was picked #199. Is that part even televised??? Needless to say Brady was not a starting QB, but we all know how the story ends right? I don’t particularly like Brady, and I like the Patriots even less but you gotta love a good comeback story. Am I right???

Come on Brendon…


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