New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley has today secured his best Formula 1 Qualifying performance, placing his Scuderia Toro Rosso on the outside of row three for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Much pressure was placed on the shoulders of the team coming into this weekend as the home circuit of their engine supplier Honda. With the arrival of their latest specification unit projecting a significant boost in performance, hopes of making it into Q3 were at an all-time high.
With good performances throughout the weekend’s three free practice sessions as the team worked through a series of programmes in preparation for the race, the signs remained positive going into qualifying. Making it through Q1 and then subsequently Q2 as some drops of rain started to appear, both drivers had made it into the last part of qualifying and were ready to give the home fans something to cheer for.
With some teams opting for intermediate tyres, many waited and instead chose slicks as the rain didn’t quite fall as heavily as initially expected. Putting in some early strong laps, as the session progressed the track deteriorated as the rain started to fall harder. In turn, those who went out early in the session on slicks were rewarded. Brendon’s time of 1:30.023 was strong enough to place him in P6 and leading the way for Toro Rosso going into tomorrow’s exciting 53 lap race.
Brendon Hartley – #28 Scuderia Toro Rosso:
“I was so happy with that! I was actually a bit emotional on the in-lap. I wouldn’t normally get emotional, but it was just the build-up of all of the effort we’ve put in and the struggles I’ve been having at times during the season. It was nice that today everything worked and went my way and I delivered when I needed to. It was a tricky Qualifying session with the weather, but the team played the strategy perfectly as we were on the track at the right time. To get sixth position on the grid in front of all the Honda and Japanese fans feels fantastic. Now I need to consolidate the points, but I’ll enjoy the feeling for the moment.”
Race – 53 Laps
14:10 – 16:10 (Local Time – UTC+9)
18:10 – 20:10 (New Zealand – UTC+13)