Brendon Hartley – A Race History 1995-2015
Brendon Hartley was born on 10th November 1989 and grew up in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Following in the tracks of his elder brother, Nelson, and with encouragement from his father Bryan, who had raced in a variety of cars including Formula Pacifics, Brendon was 6 years old when he began to race go-karts in 1995. In 2002/03, now aged 12, he had his first season of racing in Formula First (formerly Formula Vee). In 2003/04 he raced successfully in the NZ Formula Ford series before, now aged 14, moving into the NZ Toyota Race Series (TRS) where he finished 3rd in the 15 race NZ single seater championship series. A further season in NZ TRS in 2005/06 saw him finish 8th in the series.
In 2006, at the age of 16, he went to Europe and lived in the east of Germany where he raced a two- litre Formula Renault in the German and European Championships. In 2007 he won the ‘World Series by Renault’ title, a win that became a defining achievement for him. In 2008, while racing in Formula 3 (F3), he was asked to join Red Bull where he became a Test driver for F1 Scuderia Torro Rosso. Having moved to Milton Keynes in the UK to be near his Red Bull team, he drove in 2009 in both F3 and the Formula Renault 3.5 series while he continued his duties as F1 Test and Reserve driver for Torro Rosso and Red Bull Racing.
Racing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series continued for Brendon in 2010; he also had four races in GP2 while still performing as a F1 Test & Reserve driver for Torro Rosso and Red Bull. In 2011 Brendon continued to race in Formula Renault 3.5 as well as in some races of the GP2 series, but by now he had left Red Bull and was a Test driver for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 where his excellent work in the F1 simulator was held in very high regard. In 2012 he raced in GP2 and continued as a Test driver for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1. He also picked up a drive for Murphy Prototypes at the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2012 in their Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2.
In 2013 Brendon continued his F1 Test driver duties for Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 while also competing in 11 races in the Rolex Sports Car Series in USA driving a Riley-BMW. He raced again at Le Mans in 2013 for Murphy Prototypes in their Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2, this time finishing in 7th place.
In 2014 he was delighted to secure a position as a full ‘works’ driver for Porsche Germany (AG) where, teamed with Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard, he raced the very new Porsche 919 LMP1 2.0 litre Turbo V4 Hybrid in the 8-race FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) Sports Car Series, including the Le Mans 24 Hour race.
By 2015 Brendon had become an experienced and highly valued driver to the Porsche AG ‘works’ sports car team where, once again, he was teamed with Martin Webber and Timo Bernhard to compete in the 2015 WEC series.
The first of eight rounds for the 2015 WEC was the ‘6-hours of Silverstone’ race held in UK on 12th April 2015. The trio’s white #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid qualified on ‘pole’ but retired when leading after only 44 of 201 laps.
The second WEC round was the ‘6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps’ in Belgium on 2nd May and again the #17 Porsche qualified on pole, but they finished 3rd on 175 laps, one lap down on the leading pair.
The Le Mans 24 Hour race was next on 14/15 June and with the trio’s car now painted red in order to mark the first win by Porsche at Le Mans – in a Porsche 917K in 1970 – Hartley/Webber/Bernhard qualified second and finished second on 394 laps, one lap behind Brendon’s fellow Kiwi friend, Earl Bamber, who, together with fellow drivers Nick Tandy and Nico Hulkenburg, took first place in Porsche AG’s third Porsche 919 Hybrid, the white and black #19 car.
The 4th WEC Round for 2015 was the ‘6 Hours of Nurburgring’ in Germany held on 30th August. The #17 Hartley/Webber/Bernhard Porsche 919 Hybrid took 1st place, more than 1 lap ahead of the #18 Jani/Lieb/Dumas Porsche 919 Hybrid. Another 1-2 for the Porsche AG team and the first endurance race win in a Porsche 919 Hybrid for Brendon and his fellow #17 Porsche drivers.
The 5th WEC Round was the ‘6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas’ at Austin, Texas, USA, on the 19th September 2015. The #17 Hartley/Webber/Bernhard Porsche 919 Hybrid once again finished in 1st place – they held the lead of the race until serving a 1 minute stop-and –go penalty for overshooting their Pit box thus giving the lead to the #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid. However, an electrical problem in the #18 Porsche with 35 minutes to run saw the car drop to 12th place and the #17 car won the race ahead of one of the Audi ‘works’ team cars in 2nd place.
The 6th WEC Round was the ‘6 Hours of Fuji’ held at the foot of Mount Fuji, Oyama, Japan, on the 11th October 2015. The #17 Hartley/Webber/Bernhard car qualified on pole position with the second #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid in 2nd place – so far this year, each of the two Porsche 919 driver trios have taken 3 poles each. The race started in wet conditions behind the Safety Car but conditions improved later. At the end of the 6 Hour race, the #17 car finished first ahead of the #18 car. The Porsche 919 team now led the manufacturers’ championship by 53 points from the Audi R18s; the Hartley/Webber/Bernhard trio now led the drivers’ championship by 1 point.
The 7th and penultimate 2015 WEC Round was the ‘6 Hours of Shanghai’ held in China on 1st November 2015. In qualifying Brendon recorded the fastest lap with a time of 1min 42.625secs and when combined with Mark Webber’s time, the #17 Hartley/Webber/Bernard car was fastest and on Pole position with an average time of 1min 42 .719 and the #18 car was second fastest. The race started in wet conditions with the track slowly drying throughout the 6 hour race. At race end on 169 laps, the #17 Porsche led by 26.294 seconds from the #18 Porsche, followed by the two Audis and two Toyotas. Porsche also claimed the WEC Manufacturers’ Championship when the #17 car took its fourth consecutive win. The #17 Porsche trio of drivers also extended their lead to 12 points, with one round to go, in the 2015 WEC Driver’s Championship.
The 8th and final round of the 2015 WED was the ‘6 Hours of Bahrain’, held at Sakhir, Bahrain on 21st November 2015. Brendon in the #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid was fastest in the first group of qualifiers with a time of 1min 39.802 secs. Timo Bernard then bettered that time in the second qualifying session with a time of 1 min 39.670 secs. In turn, that gave the pair an average time of 1 min 39.736 secs which put them on Pole and 3/10ths of a second ahead of their teammates Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb in the #18 Porsche 919 Hybrid. The single point for Pole position extended the Hartley/Webber/Bernhard lead to 13 points in the WEC Driver’s Championship.
In the race, victory went to the #18 Porsche after the #17 car lost 5 laps in the Pits in the first hour of the race with a throttle actuator problem. The #17 car clawed back up to 4th place but a repeat of the problem in the final hour saw them drop back to 5th place at the flag. Nonetheless, the win by the #18 Porsche ensured the Audis could not catch them points, so Brendon Hartley/Mark Webber/Timo Bernard became 2015 WEC Sports Car Champions – the first win by Porsche in the World Championship since 1986 !
The New Zealand Festival of Motor Racing (NZFMR), together with European Motors Ltd-Porsche, a Division of the Giltrap Group, extend a very hearty welcome Brendon to the 2016 Porsche Festival to be held at Hampton Downs, New Zealand, January 2016 www.nzfmr.co.nz
NZ Festival of Motor Racing celebrating Porsche – January 2016
Kiwi Porsche Racers
By Jim Barclay