Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley is painfully aware that his first full season in Formula 1 is not quite going to plan. But there was a lot to smile about in Germany, as he finished in 10th place, netting his first points in eight Grands Prix.
Toro Rosso suffered one of their worst qualifying sessions of the season at Hockenheim, with Hartley lining up P16 while team mate Pierre Gasly, who’d qualified one place further up the grid, opted to have an entire new Honda power unit fitted to his STR13, a move which saw him start at the back of the field.
When racing got underway, though, Hartley was enjoying battling in the midfield, mixing it up with faster drivers like Romain Grosjean and Carlos Sainz on the fringes of the points.
However, as rain began to fall at Hockenheim, the New Zealander used the experience that helped him become a double World Endurance Champion with Porsche – and win the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hour race – to resist diving into the pits for intermediate rubber.
“The team asked me to box, and I said ‘guys, can you give me one more lap’,” Hartley told the media after the race. “I used some of my experience from endurance racing to help make the call, so I’m really happy with the race I did and to bring home one point.”
Gasly, on the other hand, pitted for full wets – the only driver in the field to do so – but as the rain began to let up, it was clear the gamble hadn’t paid off, with the Frenchman ending up 14th and one of only two drivers in the race to be lapped.
Overall, it marked a positive weekend for Hartley, who claimed his first points since Azerbaijan back in April – although that now gives him just two points compared to his team mate’s 18. Still, he was looking on the bright side, following a string of Grand Prix weekends where he’s had to face speculation about being replaced at Toro Rosso…
“I’ve doubled my points!” he said. “It was a really good race for me – I was happy.
“We had some great scraps out there. We lacked a bit of pace, I was disappointed to lose the place to Grosjean [who overtook four cars in the last six laps to finish P6] but I felt I did everything I could.”