Brendon Hartley admitted it was a ‘steep learning curve’ for him during the two Free Practice sessions at the Circuit of the Americas as he took to the track for the first time in Scuderia Toro Rosso’s STR12 on Friday.
The New Zealander, who only joined the team earlier this week to replace Super Formula title contender Pierre Gasly, was happy with his performances, finishing fourteenth in the mixed conditions of the morning session before placing seventeenth in the dry afternoon session.
Hartley was surprised with just how much grip the 2017 Formula 1 cars offered in high speed corners, but his day was just about learning about the car, and how to get the best out of the tyres, before he takes to the track on Saturday for his first Qualifying session of his Formula 1 career.
“A steep learning curve today!” admitted Hartley. “It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy.
“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day. The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1… it was quite an eye-opener!
“Another challenge are the tyres, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tyres there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tyre pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.
“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”