Helmut Marko has revealed that Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda are no longer looking at alternatives to Brendon Hartley after the New Zealander improved his competitiveness during the Canadian Grand Prix weekend.
Despite Hartley being eliminated in an opening lap crash with Williams Martini Racing’s Lance Stroll, he was close to making it through to the top ten in Qualifying and was more than a match for team-mate Pierre Gasly who was eliminated in the first segment at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Hartley has only one top ten finish so far in the opening seven races, which came in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix where he finished tenth, and his seat was under pressure as team-mate Gasly scored eighteen points in the same period, including a fourth-place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Mercedes-Benz protégé and former Sauber F1 Team racer Pascal Wehrlein and McLaren F1 Team reserve driver Lando Norris were amongst the names being linked to Hartley’s seat, but Marko, advisor to both Toro Rosso and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, says his position is no longer under threat, and he is set to remain in the seat going forward, starting this weekend at the Circuit Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix.
“If the trajectory had not improved, then we would have had to look somewhere for an alternative,” said Marko to German publication motorsport-magazin.com.
“But that’s not the case and Brendon is now competitive.”