Hartley baffled by Toro Rosso exit rumors

He’s endured a difficult launch to his career in F1, but a rumor of his impending exit from Toro Rosso is news to Brendon Hartley.

Speculation around the Kiwi’s future started at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago with a few paddock pundits whispering that Monaco could be the 28-year-old’s last race.

Hartley has indeed struggled since appearing on the grid late last year, when Toro Rosso shuffled its driver line-up following the eviction of Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz transfer to Renault.

His relative weakness in performance against team mate Pierre Gasly and a few on-track mishaps haven’t helped his cause, but he dismisses any talk of Toro Rosso calling it a day.

    Toro Rosso opens the door to Honda’s Fukuzumi

“I was surprised to hear that. I have a contract, so I was surprised to hear,” Hartley told Crash.net.

“There’s always a lot of rumours in Formula 1, so as a driver, it’s better not to read too much. I know that I’m a team player.

“I’m working very hard behind the scenes. I know I’m more than capable,” he said.

“I think people sometimes have quite short memories in Formula 1. Things move very quick, and from one weekend to the next, the whole story can be a very different one.

“There are plenty of critics. As a driver, you’re your own biggest critic.”

Negative rumors are never a driver’s ally, which is why Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko also denied the speculation surrounding Hartley, although rather mildly.

Queried on the subject in Spain, and the possibility of giving Hartley’s seat to Pascal Wehrlein, Marko said “that’s not the intention at the moment”.

Not exactly the ringing endorsement Hartley was hoping to hear…

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