Hartley denies Toro Rosso seat under threat

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Hartley denies Toro Rosso seat under threat
By: Stuart Codling
May 24, 2018, 8:15 AM

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley has moved to quash speculation that he is at risk of losing his seat, describing himself as "more than capable" of staying in the job.

Hartley's future at Toro Rosso has been the focus of much speculation in recent weeks after he made two high-profile errors.

In Azerbaijan, he failed to progress from Q1 after touching the wall on his first flying lap - then while touring back to the pits, he wandered into the path of teammate Pierre Gasly while he was on his flying lap, nearly initiating a huge accident.

He then missed qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix entirely after crashing at Turn 9 during FP3.

Rumours in the German press had connected Mercedes protege Pascal Wehrlein with Hartley's seat.

"I was surprised to hear about that because I have a contract," Hartley said. "I'm feeling more and more confident in a Formula 1 car.

"F1 moves quickly, there's a lot of critics, but obviously as a driver you're your own biggest critic. I had two weekends not completely clean, but in fairness I scored my first point in Azerbaijan, and for the first weekends of the year I was ahead [of my teammate] in qualifying two of the three [Australia and China]."

He added: "I don't even know what websites [are saying this]. In the end, I know that I'm a team player, I'm working very hard behind the scenes.

"I know I'm more than capable - I think I've shown that in the first three qualifyings of the year and since then I haven't done a lap in qualifying."

The suggestion was also refuted by Red Bull's driver consultant Helmut Marko, albeit equivocally, as he said: "That's not the intention at the moment".

Hartley's Toro Rosso team has openly admitted that it is considering taking on a Japanese driver in the near future, perhaps as early as next season, the most likely candidate being Formula 2 racer Nirei Fukuzumi.

However, Fukuzumi is not currently qualified to hold a Formula 1 superlicence.

Hartley claimed the final point-paying position in Azerbaijan and finished 11th out of 14 finishers from his back-of-the-grid spot in Barcelona.

"Ultimately we haven't had the pace to be in the points all of the time," Harley said. "I was really happy with my race in Barcelona; we didn't have the pace to move much further up, but I felt I did what I could, and I'm happy with how I dealt with having a crash.

"Obviously you don't want it to happen, and I'll make a big effort that it doesn't happen again, but I'm not the only one who'll have a crash - and it won't be my last crash - and that's part of being a racing driver. I'll move on and fight this weekend, and hopefully have a good result."

Hartley said that the low-energy nature of the Monaco track, with its abundance of slow corners, should play to the strengths of the Toro Rosso chassis and provide the opportunity for a good result this weekend. And he recognises the importance of doing so.

"I think here's going to be a different story on the hypersofts. Nobody has any experience of them on such a track. Everybody's tested them in Barcelona where we know they last for one or two laps.

"Around here we're expecting them to last maybe 30 or so laps and the performance gains will be huge. Getting those working will be a huge part of the programme for all of the teams.

"I've had some good races but ultimately there's only one race this year where we've had the pace in the car to score big points - and that's the race where I had a penalty and didn't deliver. I know I'll have my time and I'm very motivated this weekend to get a good result.

"I think people sometimes have short memories in Formula 1. Things move very quick, and from one weekend to the next the whole story can be a completely different one. I'm well aware of that."

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Brendon Hartley
Teams Toro Rosso Shop Now
Author Stuart Codling
Article type Breaking news