Brendon Hartley: F1 departure "was clear as far back as Monaco"
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Former Formula 1 rookie Brendon Hartley has opened up about his year in the championship, saying it was the best year of his life.The former Toro Rosso driver says he is not writing about the year hoping for sympathy, but to thank those who supported him throughout the season.
The World Endurance champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner held on to his Formula 1 seat until the end of the 2018 season, when he was replaced by Aledander Albon.
His replacement was announced just 24 hours after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
Writing his final edition of his diary for The Player's Tribune, Hartley said he was convinced as early as the Monaco Grand Prix in May that he would be dropped from the team.
"I’m not writing this hoping for sympathy, I just want to tell you some of the stories about one of the best years - and I truly mean that - of my life," he writes.
"I want to give you some insight into what a season in the car of your dreams is like. And I want to say some thanks. Because this journey, this sport - my life - is not a solo mission. I’m here, and have had the opportunities I had, because of all the wonderful people around me. I know that. And they’re as much a part of this story as I am."
Hartley says after the midway mark of the Formula 1 season he could not help thinking of fellow Kiwi, the late Chris Amon, who was often dubbed as the unlukiest driver in Formula 1 history.
"After the midway mark of the season I couldn’t help but think of my fellow Kiwi Chris Amon, who is often dubbed as the unluckiest driver in Formula 1 history.
"From hitting birds, being taken out on the first laps, engine penalties, suspension failures and other issues that weren’t always mentioned in public, it felt like I was going down the same path."
The Monaco Grand Prix was the race every driver looked forward to, but it was tough.
"When I look back now, what I remember most about it is walking down to the paddock to meet the media on the Wednesday before the weekend started, and receiving a bunch of questions about my future," he writes.
"Here I am, a handful of races into my F1 career, and I'm being asked about the end."
The worst part about that day though had been finding out there was some truth to the rumours.
"After a few races, there were some people, it appeared, who didn't want me there. I’ll be honest, this was a bit of a shock. After entering F1 with a wealth of experience, two World Endurance championships, a win at Le Mans, and out qualifying my team mate two out of the first three races, it was hard to for me to believe that there was talk of my being replaced so early."
Hartley says that is life in Formula One, a sport with so much money and so many people involved, it was only natural that there were politics involved.
"I put in some quick sessions heading into the race, but on Sunday I was taken out from behind and ended with nothing to show for the weekend."
Hartley says there is a different sort of intensity in the midfield battle in Formula One, because the teams were fighting for their jobs and their careers.
"That looking-over-my-shoulder feeling didn’t really go away all year. But, that’s just how it is. Every driver or athlete at a professional level must deal with pressure, and all will have their own way of handling it or even turning it into a positive."
Hartley says The F1 door is definitely not closed, and the experience gained from a year at the top of the sport " means I will arrive more prepared and stronger for whatever opportunities come next."