Honda thanks Hartley for helping to ‘accelerate development’

The news that Alexander Albon will race for Toro Rosso in 2019 also meant that Brendon Hartley’s 25-race stint in Formula 1 was officially at an end.

The team’s engine partners Honda were keen to thank the Kiwi for all his efforts during the just-concluded season, saying he had made an important contribution to their programme’s development.

“On behalf of Honda, I would like to express my thanks to Brendon for all his hard work this year,” motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto said on social media.

“Brendon is always a friendly and charming person who immediately embraced Japanese culture and Honda’s way,” he continued.

  • Alexander Albon signs with Toro Rosso for 2019

“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.”

Yamamoto’s praise and thanks were echoed by further comments from Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.

“Everyone at Honda enjoyed working with Brendon throughout the year,” he 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.”

Hartley finished the season with just four championship points, a long way behind his team mate Pierre Gasly who is off to Red Bull next season. That leaves Albon paired up with surprise returnee Daniil Kvyat in 2019.

The new season will see Red Bull follow its junior squad onto Honda engines in the hopes that it will provide them with the performance boost needed to put them on an even footing with Mercedes and Ferrari.

As for Hartley, his plans for next year are up in the air after losing his seat at Faenza. While there’s no room left on the F1 grid next year, he doesn’t rule out coming back in the future.

“Obviously I feel like I have unfinished business in Formula 1,” he said. “I had some tough times, a lot of pressure put on.

“I think I reacted well, and I’ve come out the end of the season a much stronger individual [and] driver, and really happy with my progression through the season.

“I haven’t always had opportunities to score points,” he added. “Sometimes outside of my control, definitely some missed opportunities in the beginning.

“But I’ve been a good team player all year and I know I’ve very much contributed to the performance,” he concluded. “I’ve finished the season much stronger than I started.”

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