Brendon Hartley remains focused on the job in hand at Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, although he knows doing the best job he can do will make it easier when it comes to negotiating with the team about staying there for 2019.
The New Zealander has only scored two points so far in 2018, thanks to tenth place finishes in the Azerbaijan and German Grand Prix and finds himself sitting nineteenth in the Drivers’ Championship with just seven races remaining.
In comparison, team-mate Pierre Gasly has twenty-eight points and a best finish of fourth in the Bahrain Grand Prix, and Hartley acknowledges that he needs to convert what he feels has been stronger performances in recent races into points finishes across the remainder of the season, if he is to retain his place on the Formula 1 grid next season.
“I have a contract going forward,” said Hartley during Thursday’s press conference in Singapore. “Obviously there are always options and whatnot.
“I’ve been saying it for a while that the best thing I can do is focus on one race at a time and doing the best job I can. I know, and I’m confident about the job I’ve been doing behind the scenes with the team.
“I know I’ve got stronger every race during the season. The results don’t exactly show that, but I know that I am strong, and I have been strong in the last five races and there have been a few circumstances which meant I wasn’t able to score points.
“I seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time a lot of the time but I’m also looking at myself, and what I can do better there. Honestly, I’m just focusing on doing the best I can one race at a time, and I hope that I’m on the grid next year, which is my goal.
“I’ve been improving all year and I haven’t really had a direct discussion about an exact result but it’s clear I haven’t finished in the points enough times, when you compare with my team-mate.”
Hartley feels there could be a good opportunity for him to put his Toro Rosso into the points this weekend in Singapore, with the Marina Bay Street Circuit not so dependent on power as in recent races, which could open opportunities for both himself and team-mate Gasly.
“It’s a big opportunity actually for us at Toro Rosso,” said the New Zealander. “Historically the team’s done very well here. Last year they took fourth place with Carlos [Sainz Jr.] in some tricky conditions but if we take the last two races, we think this would be a strong opportunity for us.
“Everyone can see that I’ve been strong in certain scenarios but haven’t been able to capitalise. [I] probably I need some more results in the points.”