As Brendon Hartley starts his second season in Formula One, he may not be a wide-eyed rookie anymore, but he is still taking in all he experiences.
The new F1 season kicks off in Melbourne in a fortnight and it’s then that Hartley will hopefully be able to show his true potential on motor sport’s biggest stage.
Last year, in the four races he competed in at the end of the season, he may not have set the sporting world alight, with a best place finish of 13th, but he did do enough to convince the powers that be at Toro Rosso, he deserved a season long contract.
Not that F1 drivers have to deal with travelling economy class, but Hartley will do some serious globe trotting this year. The 28-year-old still enjoys visiting places around the world, but even he says it can feel unrelenting.
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“You learn to deal with it,” Hartley said.
“I don’t know how many times I flew around the world in the last two months of the season, but I was crossing time zones and every second day I was on a plane.
“It can be tiring, but at the same time I’m not going to complain about it. I have the dream job.
“I do think people sometimes forget that there is a lot of pressure that goes with it, but I’ve made a real conscious effort to enjoy my time here.
“You see some people don’t, all they feel is that pressure and don’t take the time to enjoy what they’re doing.”
This year there are 21 races over the season, equalling the record for the most ever.
The big change this year for Toro Rosso is switching from Renault to Honda engines.
As Hartley suffered from a couple of engine failures last year, he’s unlikely to miss Renault power, but it is a matter of conjecture how the Honda engine will go this season.
“I’m optimistic about it,” Hartley said.
“They’re a huge manufacturer and they’re working very hard.
“They came into Formula One later than Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari with these current regulations [in place], so they’ve been playing catch up.
“Anyway, it’s a massive opportunity for me to prove myself in Formula One.”
Hartley was a finalist for last year’s Halberg awards, but missed out in the men’s section to shot putter Tom Walsh.
Even so, it was a well deserved recognition for the great year Hartley had, making it into F1 and winning the World Endurance Car Championship with compatriot Earl Bamber and the German Timo Bernhard.
But for Hartley himself, last year’s highlight was winning Le Mans.
“Most people have heard of the Le Mans 24,” he said.
“It’s got a lot of history and racing there for Porsche, it’s one of the those things, we we’re in history books now, that lives on.
“That project I’d been a part of for the last four years will live on forever.
“Also, standing up there with Earl. We grew up racing together and never did we imagine we’d be standing on that top step together.”
– Sunday News