Ecstatic Hartley vindicated by career best qualifying performance


Toro Rosso boss put his drivers under pressure to deliver a performance in qualifying and that's exactly what they did with Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly both gaining access to Q3.

With the help of Honda's new Spec-3 power unit, Tost felt Toro Rosso's STR13 was good enough to make the final cut in qualifying, but it was Hartley who surprisingly led the way at the Faenza squad.

After months of under-performance and rumors of his in-season replacement, and with his future in F1 still in doubt, the Kiwi's impressive result could not have come at a better time.

"I'm stoked with that," an ecstatic Hartley told Sky F1 after qualifying.

"I was quite emotional on the in-lap. I wouldn't normally get like that but just the buildup of all the crap over the last months, and I know all year I've gotten better and better. Thing haven't always gone my way.

"Some things I couldn't always discuss in the media - first lap incidents, obviously some things I could have done better.

"But today, a new PU, tricky conditions, a driver's track, first time here in Suzuka, I'm really really happy to put it on P6, yeah…"

Honda's new engine has been long-awaited, the unit being initially introduced in free practice last week at Sochi but not raced as it required additional calibration.


Worth a rumored half a second a lap, the Spec-3's contribution to Toro Rosso's boost in performance was clearly demonstrated in qualifying.

"I don't know if it's half a second but we're definitely quicker," acknowledged Hartley.

"We haven't been challenging for Q3 apart from wet conditions in Budapest.

"No doubt it's faster, you don't always feel that in the race car, different tracks different aero levels, but you see it on the lap times."

Hartley revealed that a bit of mischievous chicanery by his race engineer Pierre Hamelin had perhaps also contributed to his day's performance.

"My engineer told me on the radio that Force India had improved their time, 'so the track is definitely okay'," explained the Kiwi!

“I've now looked at the timing screens and realised that he lied to me!

"So he gave me good confidence that the first sector was going to be dry and good grip, which was a good thing. I had to have full trust in him.

"The team did a fantastic job to put us on track at the right time, and no mistakes from anyone today, so, mega."

And then there was the unwavering support from the thousands of energized Honda fans for whom Suzuka is their home race.

"The support here has been crazy," he admitted.

"From the moment we leave the hotel to when we arrive, right from the train station, there's so much support for Honda. I've made a few Japanese fans after today."

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