Motorsport Week  |    |   0  |  6 December 2018

Brendon Hartley would 'love to tell the story' of STR exit

Axed Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley has quipped that he would “love to tell the story” of his exit from the team, and reckons the door remains open for a return to Formula 1 in the future.

Double WEC champion and Le Mans victor Hartley joined Toro Rosso late in 2017 and remained with the squad through 2018, though rumours persisted over his position with the team.

Hartley repeatedly stressed that he held a long-term contract but less than 24 hours after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Toro Rosso confirmed Alexander Albon as Daniil Kvyat’s 2019 team-mate.

It sealed Hartley’s exit from Formula 1 after a season in which he scored four points compared to the 29 amassed by Red Bull-bound Pierre Gasly.

In an interview with New Zealand radio station Newstalk ZB Hartley discussed his season, commenting: “I mean there were rumours very early in the season which was a big surprise to me when I thought I’d signed a long-term contract.

“I came off the back of a World Championship and a Le Mans win and after just 2-3 races there were rumours and lot of questions being asked about my immediate future.

“I’m happy with how I handled that. I feel under the circumstances other people could have potentially cracked and I actually came out much stronger because of it.

“I fought, I evolved through the season, there were articles in the press saying ‘look he needs to improve, beat his team-mate’ and at the end of the season I felt on top of my game, built great relationships with Honda, the staff at Toro Rosso, and was consistently out-performing my team-mate.

“It wasn’t particularly easy, seven years away from single-seaters, but I was very comfortable with the job I was doing at the end of the year.

“What I will say is F1 is very complicated, there’s a lot of money involved, politics, and some of the reasons drivers stay or leave isn't always in your control or for reasons of pure performance.

“In any case I left the paddock with my head held high.

“I knew I'd given it my best shot this year. I knew that I'd stepped up to the plate when I needed to.”

When pushed on the reasons he was given for his axing, Hartley replied: “I mean… yeah there are probably parts of it that I can’t really disclose.

“I would love to tell the story one day. Probably not everything I can disclose to be perfectly honest."

Hartley went on to explain that "the politics, I don’t enjoy, it took me some time to let’s say get used to the extra media attention.

“I was definitely prepared coming into F1 being involved in Porsche in LMP1 but the pressure ramped up more than expected, in terms of being under the microscope more, but I definitely got more and more comfortable with that during the season.”

Hartley will not be present on the grid in 2019 but underlined his feeing that a return could be possible in the future.

“I would never say it's closed. 10 years ago when that door was effectively shut, I've proven that it's possible to open it again,” he said.

“I'm now in a position where I have a Super License, I have hands-on Formula 1 experience, I definitely didn't disgrace myself and I definitely wouldn't say that door is closed.

“Things, as everyone can see in this situation, can change quickly. The door could still potentially be open.”

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