Porsche factory role for Brendon Hartley in 2019


Former Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley will remain part of Porsche's factory driver programme in 2019, it has been confirmed at the manufacturer's Night of Champions event in Stuttgart.

However Hartley is not currently part of the any of the team’s sports car formal named line-ups for 2019 so far announced, which include a four-car factory GT effort for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Kiwi has had links to Porsche since 2014, and was part of their 2017 Le Mans LMP1 victory. He remained on the books this year despite his move into Formula 1 with Toro Rosso.

Hartley had felt confident of keeping his seat at Faenza next season, but learned after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that he was to be replaced by rising Red Bull junior Alexander Albon.

That's left the 29-year-old looking around the world of motorsport for new challenges - with the ABB FIA Formula E championship one possibility.

Porsche is due to enter the all-electric series next year, making Hartley the ideal driver for the team's inaugural season.

Porsche motorsport chief Fritz Enzinger said that the squad's first choice of driver in Formula E was “already decided”, and that the name would be "announced shortly" ahead of the start of spring testing.

Even so, Hartley has admitted that he is disappointed to be leaving Formula 1 after a single season. Although he only claimed four points over the course of 2018, he has been fulsomely praised by Toro Rosso's engine partners Honda for his contribution to their programme.

Hartley was similarly complimentary in return.

Brendon Hartley (NZL) Scuderia Toro Rosso.

“I had an incredible experience this year working with everyone at Honda,” he said in a video message recorded for Honda’s Thanks Day.

“I do really want to say thank you to all the Honda Racing employees that I worked alongside, visited in the factory, and also the Honda fans,” he continued.

“To the fans, I really feel that you welcomed me with open arms. I really felt that support in Suzuka this year and throughout the whole year," he added. “I really feel like I am going to take some Japanese culture with me for the rest of my life.

“Once again, I just want to say thank you. Thanks to everyone for their hard work, and the Honda fans for their support."

Sky Sports F1 pundit and former driver Martin Brundle said that in his opinion, Hartley had never had a fair chance to prove himself at Toro Rosso.

"I feel sorry for Brendon," he said. "He started with technical grid penalties and that's all he seems to know really.

"He's driven really well lately, I think he was a little lacklustre early on while he was finding his way towards the end of last season, but then found good speed and racecraft."

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