Having just last weekend completed an emotional final race for Porsche as the German marque brought its LMP1 programme to a successful conclusion, Brendon Hartley traveled the relatively short distance from Bahrain to Abu Dhabi for the final race of the 2017 Formula 1 season.
Having just last week been confirmed that he will remain with Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2018 season as a permanent driver, the Kiwi was hoping to put in a good showing in his final race of the year. Having suffered a series of engine issues in recent races that resulted in major grid penalties, Hartley looked set to continue this poor run of luck when further engine component replacements during free practice earned the 28 year old a further 10 place penalty for Sunday’s race. Using the two sessions to run through a programme of setup work to get the best use of their tyres, it wasn’t until Free Practice three on Saturday morning that Brendon finally got a chance to go after an outright lap time.
Despite the extensive overnight work from the backroom staff at Toro Rosso, it appeared that both Hartley and teammate Pierre Gasly would continue to suffer for outright pace on Saturday morning. The mixture of both high speed straights and low speed corners at the Abu Dhabi circuit was also creating an issue with Hartley’s rear tyres during the morning’s running.
Going into Qualifying, for Brendon it was somewhat easier to experiment and try some further solutions to his woes, as given his grid penalty he was all but certain to be starting from the back regardless of the result. However struggling to piece a perfect lap together during the session, he finished the session in P20 but with the advantage of a strong tyre allocation at his disposal for tomorrow’s race.
Brendon Hartley – #28 Scuderia Toro Rosso:
“I’m not happy, that wasn’t a good session for me. We’ve been lacking a bit of pace all weekend on both cars, but in particular mine. We’ve obviously been making a lot of changes – we had nothing to lose in this session as we were going to start from the very back anyway because of the grid penalty. But it was a pretty scrappy session from my side, I didn’t get it together at all. It’s a little bit frustrating, but it doesn’t really change the result. Obviously, I would’ve loved to have banged in a banzai lap, but it just didn’t work out. On the positive side, all of this is good preparation for next year! All we have to do now is push as much as possible tomorrow – points are going to be pretty difficult and it will be quite a tough ask to defend our sixth position in the Championship, but we’ll do our best and stay optimistic until the very end!”
26/11/17 – 17:00 – Local Time (GMT+4)
26/11/17 – 14:00 – Paris (GMT+1)
27/11/17 – 02:00 – Auckland (GMT +13)