Feature: Hartley gets his shot at Formula 1
13 October 2017 – Brendon Hartley will make his Formula 1 bow at the United States Grand Prix next weekend after receiving a call up from Toro Rosso. GPUpdate.net reflects on the New Zealander's career to date.
In many ways, 2017 epitomises the rollercoaster nature of Hartley's career. The No. 2 Porsche was out of contention at Le Mans, only to pull off a remarkable win, before the manufacturer called time on its LMP1 project, leaving Hartley potentially unemployed, but he is now set to climb aboard the STR12.
Hartley's results in his native New Zealand captured the attention of Red Bull, which in the mid-late 2000s had an expansive junior programme, as it sought to make its mark on the Formula 1 scene.
Formula 1 tests followed but results did not as Hartley stepped up the ladder, his 2009 campaign yielding just one win and one further podium across a split F3 Euro Series and Formula Renault 3.5 programme.
Hartley conducted a handful of Formula 1 tests but results did not improve and mid-2010 he was dropped from the junior programme, though retained Red Bull affiliation.
Hartley took the well-trodden route and turned his attentions to sportscars, initially with Murphy Prototypes in LMP2, taking a class podium on his debut in Belgium.
When Porsche made its return to top-level sportscar racing in 2014, Hartley was recruited to drive one of its 919 Hybrids, alongside Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber.
It took until mid-2015 for the partnership to triumph, but then the floodgates opened, and four straight wins enabled the trio to emerge as champions.
Four further wins followed in 2016 but difficulties at Le Mans meant the trio were unable to retain their crown, before Earl Bamber claimed the retired Webber's place at Porsche for 2017.
At Le Mans, a major delay cost the No. 2 car several hours, and left Hartley and his co-drivers second last, but amid a high attrition rate, the trio moved forward.
At that stage, the No. 38 LMP2 Jackie Chan squad led by three laps, but the No. 2 made up the deficit and triumphed, pulling off a remarkable comeback.
It proved to be the first of four straight wins – and counting, coming either side of Porsche's announcement that it will withdraw from LMP1 at the end of 2017.
Now, seven years after being dropped by Red Bull's junior programme, Hartley has his shot at Formula 1 on a circuit where he triumphed for Porsche last month.
And, with Toro Rosso's 2018 line-up still not sorted, allied to Porsche's exit, perhaps Hartley could force his way into contention for next year? As his journey has shown, nothing is impossible...