Despite earning the first point of his Formula 1 career, Brendon Hartley said that Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda did not have the pace to compete with the midfield.
Hartley took full advantage of a chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix to finish in tenth place after a disappointing start to his weekend. The New Zealander kept himself out of trouble over the course of 51 laps and suggested that points were only on offer because of drama to other cars.
“That was an interesting race,” beamed Hartley, who became the first driver from New Zealand to score a world championship point since Chris Amon at the 1976 Spanish Grand Prix.
“From my point of view, I kept it clean but we didn’t really have the pace today to challenge in the midfield. In the areas we needed to overtake we just couldn’t get close enough.”
The 28-year-old expressed his delight and relief in scoring a point, after starting from nineteenth and almost causing a colossal crash for team-mate Pierre Gasly in Qualifying yesterday.
“There was a lot of drama around me, but I managed to keep my nose clean and take home my first World Championship point in F1, which is great,” he added.
“It was important for me to get to the end of the race today – especially after yesterday.”
Hartley added that whilst his and Toro Rosso’s pace was “okay” in stages of the race, he did not have the confidence to attack other drivers on the ultra-soft compound.
“I think at times during the race the pace was okay, but on the ultra-soft tyre at the end I didn’t feel like I could challenge the cars in front.
“I would have loved to attack a bit more but let’s be happy with a point on the board. I’ll take this momentum into the next race.”