Brendon Hartley admitted to being emotional following his best Qualifying result of his Formula 1 career, with the New Zealander set to start the Japanese Grand Prix from sixth on the grid.
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda are using an improved power unit this weekend and both Hartley and team-mate Pierre Gasly both made it through into the top ten shootout and it was the former who got the better grid slot on Saturday afternoon.
Hartley, who has been under pressure to perform as he fights for his Formula 1 career, says the result at the Suzuka International Racing Course is a great answer to his critics and a good way to put the struggles he has endured this year behind him, and he praised his team for playing the strategy game to perfection throughout the session.
“I was so happy with that!” said Hartley. “I was actually a bit emotional on the in-lap. I wouldn’t normally get emotional, but it was just the build-up of all of the effort we’ve put in and the struggles I’ve been having at times during the season.
“It was nice that today everything worked and went my way and I delivered when I needed to. It was a tricky Qualifying session with the weather, but the team played the strategy perfectly as we were on the track at the right time.”
Hartley now hopes to take the positives from Saturday into Sunday and bring home what would only be his third top ten finish of the year after tenth place results in the Azerbaijan and German Grand Prix.
“To get sixth position on the grid in front of all the Honda and Japanese fans feels fantastic. Now I need to consolidate the points, but I’ll enjoy the feeling for the moment.”