Brendon Hartley reckons he needs to score more points in Formula 1 to retain his seat with Toro Rosso, but insists that he has improved since the start of the 2018 season.
The FIA World Endurance Championship title-winner made his F1 debut last year in an unusual circumstances and was handed a full-time seat by Red Bull with Toro Rosso for 2018 alongside Pierre Gasly.
With Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz signing for Renault and McLaren respectively, Red Bull chose to promote Gasly in their senior team alongside Max Verstappen. This movement would have enhanced Hartley’s chances to stay back in F1.
However, the Kiwi’s downside results for various reasons meant he is yet to be confirmed by Red Bull for 2019 and is in a danger of losing his seat with Red Bull advisor Helmet Marko mentioning 10 names for the two seats.
Ahead of the Singapore GP, Hartley was calm about his chances but admitted that he has to score regular points like Gasly to give himself a better chance to remain with Toro Rosso. He felt a lot of his improvements has been overshadowed by the issues he faced.
“Actually I’ve been improving all year and I haven’t really had a direct discussion about an exact result [needed of him to stay in F1] but it’s clear I haven’t finished in the points enough times, when you compare with my teammate,” he said.
“Some of that was out of my control, some of it part in my control but honestly, like I said before, I’m just focused – one race at a time – on doing my job and I’m very confident of the job I do behind the scenes and also I know that I’ve been improving the whole season.
“Everyone can see that I’ve been strong in certain scenarios but haven’t been able to capitalise so I think if what you’re referring to what he’s saying – I haven’t been following the press – but probably I need some more results in the points.”
Even though he has a contract, Hartley admitted that there could be options and so on. “I have a contract going forward,” he said. “Obviously there are always options and whatnot. The results [in 2018] don’t exactly show, but I know that I am strong.
“I have been strong in the last five races and there have been a few circumstances which meant I wasn’t able to score points. I seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot of the time.
“But I’m also looking at myself, and what I can do better there. Honestly, I’m just focusing on doing the best I can one race at a time, and I hope that I’m on the grid next year, which is my goal.”
Hartley has had a torrid time especially in terms of reliability. He has had four retirements and two more races where has hasn’t seen the chequered flag even though he has been a classified finisher. He has just the two points as opposed to Gasly’s 28 in 14 races.