Scuderia Toro Rosso's former third driver Brendon Hartley was eager to prove himself in this week's Jerez test, after a disjointed season in Formula Renault 3.5 and the F3 Euro Series while fellow Red Bull Junior Jaime Alguersuari was promoted to a race seat with the team.
Despite starting with a crash on his out-lap on Tuesday, he went on to complete a solid program throughout the rest of the day. He gave his impressions about the test afterward.
Q. How did it feel to be back in a Formula 1 car?
Brendon Hartley: "It was nice to be driving an F1 car again. You always forget a little bit how fast the car really is, it's the fastest car on the planet, so always a special feeling to be enjoying so many forces on the body and to be going so fast. Quite an experience."
Q. What went wrong on Tuesday morning?
BH: "Actually, we were doing aero testing and so there was no temperature in the tires, and they put the hard ones on just to use them and they said it's going to be quite slippery but I think we underestimated it a bit, the tire temperatures were quite low, it was like driving on ice, actually, and Daniel had exactly the same problem, and spun on the same corner. I think I had 20 percent throttle. And the car spun, it was a bit unfortunate to start the day like that. But in fact there was not so much damage, I touched the wall very slightly. But we lost a lot of time. It was not the best way to start the day, it was like driving on ice. So lesson learned."
Q. Did you manage to finish the program?
BH: "Yes, I think we missed one run, but for the testing and for what they needed to achieve, we achieved almost everything."
Q. Have you driven the Renault 3.5 car?
BH: "Yes, I think I did five races with it this year. I took pole position at the Nurburgring and a few good results."
Q. How does an F1 car compare to that?
BH: "Obviously it's a lot faster. I mean there's a lot of similarities if you look at the car. The general public would probably not see the difference. I think driving there, you learn a lot to drive here. It's just another level here, the forces on the body, the braking distances, the speed that your mind needs to work is a lot higher and I think, more importantly, you work with a lot more people. There's a lot of people in the team and you need to understand how to communicate with everyone and also the controls and procedures, which are going on inside the cockpit. There's a lot more to take on."
Q. Last year you gave up being the third driver to race, do you think that was the way to go?
BH: "Yes, it was disappointing because Jaime took the racing seat. But I don't think I was really ready, I didn't have the good results, so if I had arrived in Formula 1 with the results I had, it would have been short-term. I want to arrive there when I proved myself, so I am planning on a good season next year racing with Tech1 in World Series and I think they've got a good opportunity to win races, they are a good team. So, I think if I do a good job, I get the same opportunity again."
Q. Daniel will be your teammate next year?
BH: "Yes, exactly."
Q. How well do you you know him?
BH: "I know him very well. We have been living in Milton Keynes (UK) together, so we were training together the whole time – cycling, tennis."
Q. Any Aussie-Kiwi rivalry there?
BH: "Yes, for sure. There's always a bit of rivalry there. But we are good friends, in the end on the track we will be enemies. But I think outside the track we can still be friends.
Q. Is the World Series a good steppingstone into Formula 1?
BH: "Definitely, you have the paddle shift, you have a big car to drive, big sets of tires, teaches you a lot, you have pit stops in the races, all these things that make a difference when you get thrown into F1, where you have to do the same things."
Q. How is your neck here?
BH: "It's pretty tough. I'm not going to lie. It's very difficult to prepare for driving a Formula 1 car. I've been training a lot with the neck, but the best training is just driving."