Mike Hosking: Heroic Brendon Hartley proves surviving is winning
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One of the upsides of a Monday holiday is that the Grand Prix in America can be watched live as opposed to a replay.
Formula 1 is really only interesting because of Brendon Hartley. All the reasons I gave up on it years ago still exist.
It's a rare day that a lot of overtaking goes on, there are certain teams, and certain cars, that will always win. There are many cars that will not. Some of the drivers are not there because they are one of the best 20 in the world.
There are rules that even if you follow the sport fairly closely are still bewilderingly complex, if not unnecessary.
But none of that really matters if you're following Hartley - given he is one of only a tiny few who have ever flown our flag at the highest level of the sport.
And that, in part, is the point. Like it or not, F1 is the pinnacle of motor racing and we have one of ours as part of the mix.
If you have not really kept up with news, Brendon is becoming increasingly frustrated and rightly so. Most of the year his future has been under some sort of question mark. Can he survive into next season?
Until this past weekend he has been diplomatic, this weekend that facade slipped a little. He's sick of being asked about his future, he doesn't feel he's had the full support of the team. And he's had a lot of bad luck.
His riding orders for a future are to match or beat his team mate Pierre Gasly. He's done that. Not all the time, but quite a lot, and this weekend was no different.
This weekend he was ninth. On the first anniversary of him joining F1 fulltime, he got his best result.
There have been times he was beating Gasly, but was pulled back under team orders. There have been times when his car literally fell apart.
But what's been brilliant about all of this, from a fan's point of view, is that Hartley has been under what you can only assume is the most extraordinary pressure
And it's these sort of stories, the stories of nuance and subtlety that aren't really covered all that much in sports news. Sports news is about who came first, and that's about that.
Photo / Getty Images
While the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton wander round earning tens of millions, legacies assured, cars that can't be beaten, we have at the bottom end of the 20 are people like Hartley.
There, but only just. They're a loss or an accident away from being jettisoned out the back end.
The talk of replacements is open and blunt, the interviews with team principals include veiled threats about performance. It is hard, and a brutal way to make a living.
And against all that, you have to get behind the wheel and drive 300kmh in a way that sees you post a result that can keep your career alive.
Winning is easy when you're already winning. Doing what Hartley is doing right now is heroic, shows determination, and professionalism. That's a lesson for any young athlete looking to aspire to anything.
And this is all why ninth in the US at the weekend is so much better than it might appear on a scoreboard.
- NZ Herald