Brendon Hartley felt eleventh and twelfth was about as good as it was going to get for his Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda team during Qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix, although had the rain came earlier, it could have been a different story.
The New Zealander finished Q2 in twelfth position at Spa-Francorchamps, just 0.021 seconds behind team-mate Pierre Gasly, with both drivers around half a second shy of getting ahead of Kevin Magnussen and advancing into Q3.
But Hartley knew before the session began that it was always going to be a challenge to get the STR13 into Q3 in the dry but had the rain that fell during that Q3 session fell earlier, he could have used that to get through for a second consecutive race weekend, having qualified inside the top ten for the first time in his Formula 1 career last time out at the Hungaroring.
“After FP2 and FP3 we knew today was going to be a challenge,” said Hartley, who’s seat at the team for 2019 remains uncertain. “I think as a team we got most of the performance out of the car and it felt quite good.
“Making it to Q3 would have been a bit of a stretch today, but in the end it was a pretty good day for us. I would have loved the rain to have come a bit earlier because historically we’re pretty good in mixed conditions, but we have been able to achieve the best we could today.”
Hartley will move up to eleventh on the grid thanks to the grid penalty for Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver Valtteri Bottas, and he hopes to be in the fight for the points on Sunday.
“P11 and P12 was a good result – especially since we will both move up a position after Bottas’ penalty,” said the New Zealander. “We’re in a good position to hopefully fight for points tomorrow.”