Brendon Hartley safe? Boss says crash doesn't impact his F1 future
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Brendon Hartley's already tough opening Formula 1 season took a massive literal hit at the weekend's Canadian Grand Prix — Hartley crashing out on lap one after contact with Lance Stroll.
The crash came off the back of rumours that the Kiwi was on the outer; rumours that came to a head last week when it was reported that Hartley's Scuderia Toro Rosso team had approached young British driver Lando Norris to replace Hartley (ironically, both are graduates of New Zealand's Toyota Racing Series).
The move was reportedly blocked by McLaren (with whom he is a reserve driver), who Norris is currently contracted to. But any hopes that the spotlight would shift away from Hartley's future were dashed by the Canada crash.
Nonetheless, Red Bull motorsport adviser Helmut Marko has surprisingly put his support behind Hartley in a recent interview with Motorsport.com.
"It was, I would say, a racing accident, and has nothing to do about his future," He said.
"He will be in the car."
Marko went on to address the rumours of different drivers taking over Hartley's spot, saying "all the people who say they want to race for Toro Rosso, or they want to put an offer that we didn't know about" are "unbelievable stories going around".
Helmut has an established record for being unforgiving with giving drivers the axe in F1, and has previously expressed displeasure in Hartley's championship situation. From that came rumours of a long list of drivers wanting to throw their hat in the ring for the job, or potentially being pursued for the job.
These ranged from F2 drivers like Sean Gelael, to former Sauber driver and current Mercedes-contracted driver Pascal Wehrlein, to the open fact that Honda and Toro Rosso have expressed a desire for a Japanese driver like Nirei Fukuzumi or Tadasuke Makino to race in the team.
The problem Red Bull have with trying to recruit a driver at this time is that many of those on the rumoured periphery don't have the required superlicence points to be eligible to even race in Formula 1. These are dependent not only on drivers competing in a wealth of applicable championships before F1, but also on their level of achievement.
If that theory is the case, then Hartley could be safe in his spot for the rest of the season. An important factor, given that he appears to be gaining more speed and more confidence in the car with every outing.