Confirmed: Brendon Hartley joins Ferrari as F1 simulator driver
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After being linked to the role early last month, it's been confirmed overnight that Brendon Hartley will join Scuderia Ferrari's operations this year as a simulator driver.
The New Zealander joins three other drivers in the simulator team; Davide Rigon, Antonio Fuoco, and former Sauber pilot Pascal Wehrlein.
“Our team has taken on four undoubtedly talented drivers, who possess innate feeling, with a strong understanding of race cars and tracks. These are exactly the qualities required in the skilful role of driving in a simulator, one of the vital pieces of equipment in the Formula 1 of today," says new Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto.
Hartley's work not only as a simulator driver but as a driver capable of developing a platform is well noted — perhaps illustrated best by Honda's classy memo thanking the 29-year-old for "accelerating our development" after he was dumped by Scuderia Toro Rosso (who only issued a similar thanks of their own following Honda's press release).
As noted previously, Hartley has done simulator work for numerous teams in the past, most notably Mercedes-Benz in 2012 and 2013 as they approached their rapid rise in the sport.
For 2019, Hartley and Daniil Kyvat are effectively swapping roles. The once embattled Russian driver is stepping out of the Ferrari simulator driver slot to return to full-time racing with Toro Rosso, while Hartley does the opposite.
Driving a Formula 1 car formed out of pixels might not sound quite as exciting as driving one in the real world. But if Hartley wants to return to the Formula 1 fold proper (and all signs indicate that he does), then this is the best way for him to keep a toe in the pool.