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Hartley and Bortolotti on their Formula One futures 03 Dec 2009

Brendon Hartley (NZL) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Brendon Hartley (NZL) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Mirko Bortolotti (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Mirko Bortolotti (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Mirko Bortolotti (ITA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR3 Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain.

During this week’s young driver test at Jerez, Brendon Hartley has been in the hot seat for Toro Rosso. Having already tested for Red Bull, and after joining the team for several Grands Prix as a reserve driver during the 2009 season, Hartley is no stranger to Formula One racing, but the 20 year-old New Zealander was glad to be back.

“It was nice to be driving a F1 car again,” he told Toro Rosso’s official website. “You always forget a little bit how fast the car really is, it’s the fastest car on the planet, so it’s always a special feeling to be enjoying so many forces on the body and to be going so fast. Quite an experience.

“It’s just another level here, the braking distances, the speed that your mind needs to work at is a lot higher and I think more importantly you work with a lot more people. You need to understand how to communicate with everyone and also the controls and procedures, which are going on inside the cockpit. There’s a lot more to take on.”

Although he’s posted some impressive times at the Spanish track, Hartley’s first morning at the wheel was hampered by an early spin on cold tyres. While the car escaped relatively unscathed, and he was able to complete the majority of the team’s planned programme, Hartley believes it was an important lesson.

“They said it’s going to be quite slippery but I think we underestimated it a bit, the tyre temperatures were quite low, it was like driving on ice actually. There was not so much damage, I touched the wall very slightly. But we lost a lot of time. It was not the best way to start the day. So lesson learned.”

From May to July of this year Hartley served as Red Bull’s reserve driver, but gave up the position ahead of the German Grand Prix to focus on his drive in the European F3 series. Spaniard Jaime Alguersuari took his place and was eventually promoted to a Toro Rosso race seat after Sebastien Bourdais left the team. Hartley, however, is confident he made the right decision.

“Yes, it was disappointing because Jaime took the racing seat,” he added. “But I don’t think I was really ready, I didn’t have the good results, so if I had arrived in Formula One with the results I had, it would have been short term. I want to arrive there when I have proved myself, so I am planning on a good season (in Formula Renault 3.5) next year. I think if I do a good job, I’ll get the same opportunity again.”

Also in action for Toro Rosso this week has been another Red Bull young driver, Mirko Bortolotti, who raced in the Formula Two series in 2009. Last year 19-year-old Bortolotti impressed whilst testing for Ferrari at Fiorano, as a prize for winning the Italian F3 title, and he was thrilled to be granted a chance to sample F1 power with another team.

“It’s a great opportunity and experience for me after last year’s test,” the Italian told Toro Rosso’s official website. “The programme was quite different, we had some parts to test, but it’s still a Formula One car and it’s great. It’s great to be here. It’s a different world. Everything is different, you have more power, more brake power, more grip, so you have to change your driving style and try to drive the F1 car as best as possible.”

Although he is yet to decide on which category he’ll race in next year, Bortolotti is eager to be back in a Formula One car soon.

“For now I will just focus on next year, even though I don’t know what I am going to do next year, but as soon as I know I will concentrate and prepare myself for that in the best way and try to be competitive in that series where I will race,” he concluded. “My target is to win everywhere I am racing.”

“The most important thing for me today was the chance to work in Formula One with the team. I enjoyed it a lot, because you have the chance to do a lap, come in the garage, change some things, go out again and see how the car changed. That is very important for young drivers and for me it’s been a great experience.”