Thursday, 06 december 2018, 07:56 , by Matthew Scott
Brendon Hartley says he believed he had signed a long-term deal with Toro Rosso, making his departure after one full season in Formula 1 something of a surprise. The Kiwi suggested there is an eye-catching story to tell behind his exit from Red Bull's junior team.
Hartley stepped into Toro Rosso in 2017 as the team lost Carlos Sainz to Renault and lost patience with Daniil Kvyat in mid-season.
It completed a remarkable comeback for Hartley, who had been dropped from Red Bull's academy before going on to win two WEC championships and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
However, he finished 19th of 20 drivers in the championship this year and will make way next year, with Kvyat returning again alongside Alexander Albon – another driver returning to the Red Bull fold after being cut in his junior days.
Brendon Hartley (@BrendonHartley) November 27, 2018
"I would love to tell the story one day," Hartley told Radio Sport.
"The politics I don't enjoy. It took me some time to get used to the extra media attention.
"I was definitely prepared coming into Formula 1, being involved in Porsche and LMP2. But I think the pressure definitely ramped up more than I expected in terms of being under the microscope a lot more but I got more and more comfortable with that during the season.
"There were rumours very early in the season which was a big surprise to me when I thought I'd signed a long-term contract.
"Came off the back of a world championship, a Le Mans win and after just two or three races there were rumours and a lot of questions being asked around my immediate future.
"I'm happy with how I handled that. I feel under the circumstances other people could have potentially cracked and I actually came out much stronger because of it.
"I fought, I evolved through the season. There were articles in the press saying 'he needs to improve and beat his teammate' and actually and the end of the season I really felt on top of my game, built great relationships with Honda, all the staff at Toro Rosso and I was consistently out-performing my teammate.
"I'm really proud of how I handled the situation and how I improved during the season."