Brendon Hartley said that his increased maturity and experience helped him cope with a packed schedule towards the end of his 2017 season.
The New Zealander – who made a surprising return to the Red Bull Academy as Daniil Kvyat’s replacement at Scuderia Toro Rosso in October – balanced his new Formula 1 commitments alongside duties in the World Endurance Championship and a one-off appearance at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans.
This saw Hartley compete in eight events over eight successive weekends – starting with the Petit Le Mans on 4 October and ending with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 26 November.
Fortuitously, the 28-year-old’s efforts did not go unrewarded, winning the Petit Le Mans alongside claiming his second World Endurance Championship crown and securing a full-time F1 seat with Toro Rosso for 2018.
Hartley attributed his achievements to experience, casting doubts over whether he would have been able to cope with the gruelling schedule in previous years.
“I think… probably eight nine years ago I wouldn’t have been able to deal with that, the pressure involved, all the different stresses, managing all the things,” Hartley told GPUpdate.
“I’m pretty happy with how I dealt with it, a couple of times I felt very tired and a little bit flat; the last three not having to cross so many time zones meant I felt more on top of it.”
Hartley also praised Toro Rosso’s understanding of the situation, as they refrained from overworking him.
“The team has been great in terms of not overloading me when they didn’t need to and trying to keep things reasonably simple.”
Looking ahead to 2018 – a year that has so far seen Hartley get married – the Kiwi noted that he can now carry confidence into his first full Formula 1 season – but is fully aware of the demands that will be placed on him.
“Now to be signed off as a full-season F1 driver was a huge weight off the shoulders, I’m proud, I’m optimistic, I have the belief I can do it.”
“But I’m very aware I have a lot of hard work, and [I have] all the respect for the other drivers, [as they] are obviously very good and are working hard.”
“I’m aware of the challenge ahead but I’m excited and optimistic about it.”