Marko 'no longer considering axing Hartley'

Brendon Hartley (NZL) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
© XPB 

Red Bull motorsports consultant Dr Helmut Marko says that dumping Brendon Hartley from the Toro Rosso driver line-up is no longer being considered.

But Marko - who runs the squad's driver development programme - conceded that dropping the Kiwi had been on the cards until recently.

"If the trajectory had not improved, then we would have had to look somewhere for an alternative," Marko told Germany's

"But that's not the case and Brendon is now competitive."

Marko is understood to be impressed with the way Hartley performed in Canada, even though his race had been cut short by a first lap accident.

Hartley himself admitted this week that the rumours he was about to be dropped by Toro Rosso had been "annoying".

“There’s been a bit of noise in the background over the last couple of weeks," he said in a video blog for the official Formula 1 website.

"I was asked a few awkward questions about my future in Formula 1.

“It was a bit annoying but that's part of the business, and I actually felt good about how I handled the whole situation," he continued.

"I didn’t let it affect me, and I just focused on the job I’m paid to do," he said. “Every weekend I feel like I’m getting a stronger and stronger.

“I’m an old fella in some ways. But I am a rookie in Formula 1 and as the weekends go by I feel like I’m understanding more and more the business of F1.

"What it takes to get the best out of these Pirelli tyres, what I’m looking for in terms of balance and set-up from the car. Working with this new team of people I have around me.

"Nevertheless I feel motivated and very eager to get to Paul Ricard which is the next race, and I working hard to make my own luck."

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