From Le Mans to Formula 1, Brendon Hartley has enjoyed a fruitful career in motorsport and maintains a busy schedule as a Toyota works driver and Ferrari F1 test driver.
Hartley currently races for Toyota GAZOO Racing in the World Endurance Championship alongisde Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, where he sits second in the drivers championship.
He had previously raced in the WEC before signing with Italian Formula 1 team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, midway through the 2017 season after the sudden depature of Daniil Kvyat.
Hartley had been a part of the Red Bull Junior Team from 2006 to 2010, winning the Eurocup Formula Renault series in 2007 and narrowly missed out on a full-time seat at Toro Rosso in 2009 to Jaime Alguersuari.
After being dropped by the Red Bull Junior Team in 2010, Hartley set about rebuilding his career through GT racing, with much success – including two World Endurance Championship titles and victory at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans
Speaking with Toyota GAZOO Racing NZ, Hartley talked about his career highlights, including signing for the Porsche LMP1 team and achieving his childhood dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.
I have many fond memories and many that have been character building ones. It’s definitely some of the harder times that have taught me the most. Highlights would be signing for Porsche end of 2013. It was a huge turnaround for me personally after losing my drive with Red Bull to completely rebuild a new path in endurance racing.
I very much enjoyed this process, appreciated the support network I had around me (my now wife being Number 1 on that list) and learned so much during the whole period. The other obvious highlights were the two world championships in the WEC, winning the Le Mans 24 hour and finally achieving my childhood dream of being an F1 driver.
Hartley detailed life in Europe and how New Zealand still remains his ‘real’ home.
I’ve been living in Europe for half of my life now but NZ will still always feel like my real home. For the last few years life has consisted of travel on a weekly basis between all the roles I have taken on. The travel can be tiresome but being in the WEC paddock with my Toyota buddies (my team mates and crew) makes it all worth it. We have lots of laughs but equally work very hard to get the most out of the Toyota TS050. Every time I jump in the car I still feel privileged to be one of the very few that get to drive an incredible and amazing machine.
He also made mention of the high regard in which Kiwi drivers are held.
Yes. No question. I feel we also get an extra level of respect because of where we have come from. Teams and others see that there is an extra level of commitment to leave friends, family and home to travel to the other side of the world to follow your dreams.
Hartley and two of his friends organised a four-week online series called ‘Racing Local’ to raise money for small Kiwi Businesses. So far, the campaign has raised $34,089.
The series attracted a slew of local drivers from multiple disciplines across the world, including the likes of Liam Lawson, Shane van Gisbergen, Scott McLaughlin, Nick Cassidy, and Hartley himself.
However, while Hartley has enjoyed the connectivity provided through sim racing, he admitted there is no substitute for the real thing – citing a lack of feel and adrenaline of the real thing. He also felt it was harder to drive in the virtual world.