Hartley 'has to improve': Toro Rosso set deadline on driver decision
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Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost sent a direct message to struggling driver Brendon Hartley: Get better or get ready to go.
"He has to improve his performance if he wants to stay in the team," Tost said at the Mexican Grand Prix.
And that comes after Hartley's season-best finish of ninth after starting last at the US Grand Prix last week. He got there after Haas F1's Kevin Magnussen and Force India's Esteban Ocon were disqualified to elevate Hartley into the points. The season is down to its final three races.
"It's great to come out punching after a few really good races for me, and I'm feeling good about the weekend so far," Hartley said.
Tost noted Hartley has four points this season compared with team-mate Pierre Gasly's 28. Gasly is being promoted to Red Bull in 2019. Toro Rosso has already announced it is bringing back former team driver Danill Kvyat next season but hasn't said who his racing partner will be.
That decision would be made in December, Tost said.
Hartley got a seat with Toro Rosso late last season and was the first driver from New Zealand in Formula One in 30 years. He has been consistently outperformed by his team-mate all season.
Hartley signed with Red Bull's young driver programme as a teenager but lasted only a short while before he was cut. He had a successful career in endurance racing, where he won a world championship.
His return to the Red Bull programme came a decade after he was first let go.