Brendon Hartley is hoping to build on his impressive qualifying performance at the Japanese Grand Prix last time out with a points finish to mark the one year anniversary of his Formula 1 debut.
Double sportscar world champion Hartley was surprisingly recalled to the Red Bull driver programme ahead of last year’s United States Grand Prix, to fill the gap created by Carlos Sainz Jr.‘s loan to the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team.
“It’s one year on since I made my Formula 1 debut in the United States GP,” said Hartley.
“I’m very excited to be going back to Austin because it’s a city I love and a track I enjoy.”
Hartley has three wins to his name at the Circuit of the Americas with the Porsche LMP1 Team, and hopes to use that confidence and knowledge in tandem with the improved performance of the Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda package. Hartley qualified a career best sixth at the Suzuka International Race Course, but could not bring that pace into the race.
“We go there off the back of a really positive qualifying performance in Japan, which showed we have clearly made some steps forward and I think we will be aiming for another good qualifying performance, this time with some points on Sunday,” the 28-year-old mused.
“The anniversary of one year in Formula 1 is a small milestone and it marks the first time this season that we come to a track that I have already driven in a Formula 1 car.”
New Zealander Hartley recalled his first time going through the first sector at CoTA in modern Formula 1 machinery, saying that his neck was “almost ripped off” through the twisting Esses complex.
“As for the circuit itself, for a new track it has a lot of character, with plenty of undulation, a very quick first section which has some similarities with the ‘snake’ in Japan,” he explained.
“I’ll never forget driving a Formula 1 car for the first time, going through that section and having my neck almost ripped off from left to right! It’s one of the most impressive sectors on the F1 calendar.
“The whole track has a very bumpy surface and it’s very technical.”
With the news of Pascal Wehrlein and Alexander Albon’s moves to the ABB FIA Formula E championship for 2018-19 and current team-mate Pierre Gasly‘s promotion to parent team Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Hartley’s position at Toro Rosso for 2019 looks reasonably safe alongside the similarly recalled Daniil Kvyat.