Brendon Hartley admits he feels proud when he reflects on his short-lived Formula 1 career and believes he was in a fortunate position to land a drive with Toro Rosso after learning his Porsche LMP1 drive was no longer on the table.
Hartley was drafted into Toro Rosso for the final four Grands Prix of the 2017 season before being offered a full-time drive with the outfit for the following year.
It was a much needed break for the Kiwi after long-term employer Porsche had announced it was pulling the plug on its World Endurance Championship prototype platform that had nurtured Hartley since 2014.
However, a tumultuous 2018 campaign in which the 30-year-old could only muster four championship points and 19th in the standings meant Hartley’s boyhood dream drive was quickly curtailed.
Nonetheless, the Hartley admits he will forever reflect on his F1 career through the lens of rose-coloured glasses, avowing he has zero regrets and he should be proud of his accomplishment to have even landed a coveted drive in the series.
“I look back on my time in Formula 1 in a very positive light,” Hartley said on the Rusty’s Garage podcast earlier in the week.
“I think there are plenty of New Zealand drivers that could have made it to Formula 1 and didn’t for whatever reason, and I feel very lucky that I was in a unique position to get to F1.
“That in itself is something positive to look back on.”
Following the Abu Dhabi season-finale it was confirmed Toro Rosso had signed budding Thai driver Alexander Albon to partner Daniil Kvyat in 2019.
Kvyat had been dropped in favour of Hartley for 2018, with Red Bull making a surprise U-Turn to re-sign the Russian for 2019.
While Hartley was undoubtedly disappointed to lose his F1 drive, he has no regrets over what he achieved in what was unquestionably a lacklustre car.
“Of course, I would have liked to continue [in F1] for longer but just to have that opportunity for one year was huge,” he added.
“I don’t have any regrets. Yeah at the start of the season maybe one or two things going differently and falling my way and not making mistakes in crucial moments, then things could have turned out completely different.
“But I think I grew through the year and I finished a lot stronger than when I started, and I don’t look back in a negative way and feel incredibly lucky that I got there to start with.
“I am very proud of how I got there. I had lost my Red Bull drive ten years before and there I was ten years later in Formula 1 and I am proud of that story.”
Since his departure from F1, Hartley was picked up by the Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 project for the World Endurance Championship where he currently sits second in the standings with three races remaining, including the storied 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The next round of the WEC is the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on August 15.