Honda has thanked outgoing driver Brendon Hartley for his work with Toro Rosso, saying he helped to accelerate the Japanese manufacturer’s development this year.
Hartley will not be racing for the team in 2019 after Toro Rosso confirmed Alexander Albon will partner Daniil Kvyat, with Pierre Gasly moving up to Red Bull. Hartley had only joined Toro Rosso late last year at the end of Porsche’s World Endurance Championship project, and Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe (pictured above) says that WEC experience was beneficial to this season’s work.
“Everyone at Honda enjoyed working with Brendon throughout the year,” Tanabe said. “He was very strong on the engineering side, always giving very precise and useful feedback, based on his great experience working with hybrid power units and as a double world champion and Le Mans winner in LMP1.
“That feedback accelerated our development in terms of set-up work, which helped us progress over the course of the year. Thank you Brendon and we wish you all the very best for the future.”
Tanabe’s comments were echoed by Honda motorsports general manager Masashi Yamamoto, who picked out Hartley’s performance in qualifying at Suzuka as a highlight for the whole company.
“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my thanks to Brendon for all his hard work this year,” Yamamoto said. “Brendon is always a friendly and charming person who immediately embraced Japanese culture and Honda’s way.
“It gave everyone at Honda so much power and confidence in what we were doing this year after several difficult seasons. I particularly remember when he qualified sixth at our home race in Suzuka. That meant a lot to Honda. We will miss him and wish him all the best for the future.”
Hartley finished 2018 with four points to his name, finishing tenth in Azerbaijan and Germany, while being promoted to ninth place by post-race disqualifications in the United States Grand Prix.