10/08/2018

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New Zealand driver Brendon Hartley believes he's finding his feet in Formula One with Scuderia Toro Rosso

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Kiwi Formula One driver Brendon Hartley says he's "in a good place mentally" as he looks to save his career at Toro Rosso.

Hartley survived frequent speculation over the first half of the 2018 season to retain his seat. But, with just two championship points, he needs a big second half of the year to feel secure for next season.

"I feel in a good place mentally," he told F1.com this week as he completed a mid-season testing programme in Hungary.

"Even after the rumours and a bit of pressure early on … [it] makes me feel a lot stronger coming out the side of that. I see things a lot clearer. A lot learned.

"There were some tough times in the beginning where I made a couple of mistakes, where I had opportunities to capitalise.

"But I feel in the last four or five races feel like I've been on top of things and don't have the points to show from it."

Assessing his season so far, he said: "Some positives. Some ups and also some downs. I feel like the second half of the first half of the season felt I was strong, luck wasn't always on my side."

The report suggested Hartley was "keenly aware" that he needed to up his game and deliver some breakthrough performances when the season reconvened for the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26 if he's to have any realistic chance of extending his stay in F1.

In a separate interview with RaceFans.net Hartley felt a lot of his good work went unseen and unappreciated by the wider public.

"If Formula 1 finishes at the end of the year or whenever I'll hold my head high," he said.

"I know the job I'm doing behind the scenes and I know that I'm giving everything that I can."

Hartley is confident those around him are aware of his work ethic and potential.

"Not everyone always knows the full story. But I feel in a good place and I hope I can consolidate the momentum I've had in the last weekends. Even if I didn't always have the result I actually feel like I was very strong and I hope I can [get] some more results and more points on the board in the next races."

Hartley said he had sought out the advice of his good friend and former endurance racing team mate, Australian ex-F1 star Mark Webber, on how to deal with his new situation.

"I think he saw many things in his time in Formula 1. I was very lucky to have him as a team mate in [WEC] as well. Especially off the track, managing situations, how to deal with the team, mentally how to deal with the pressures that are involved in Formula 1. There's a lot of advice he can offer and he's been helpful."

That was particularly the case with the external pressures that have dogged Hartley all year in his first full season at motorsport's pinnacle level.

"Even early in the Porsche days it was very clear to me he wasn't too fazed about rumours, just focused on the things that were important. Having a larger view, seeing the bigger picture," Hartley said of Webber.

"I think I've got better and better at that. I think especially this year being under a situation with a bit of pressure, coming from all angles, the media or whoever, actually it has made me feel a lot stronger and made me realise where my energy needs to be.

"I actually feel really good about the situation regardless of what's written or not written. It's made things a lot clearer for me, where my mind needs to focus and how I need to feel."

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