Taking a break between rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 series in Europe, 16-year old Brendon Hartley returns to his German home after two weeks in New Zealand with his family.
After five months of racing in a variety of new countries for the young teen, he says there have been a number of highlights this year; one of them returning 'home' for the two short weeks: "Seeing friends and family - seeing New Zealand again. But in the racing I'm coming P10 in the European Championship now and looking forward building up the ladder a little bit more and getting maybe P5."
"The podium win at Anderstorp was really cool too. Now I've got the first podium out of the way so hopefully there will be heaps more to come."
Returning to his northern hemisphere base, Hartley gets right back to work with the early September weekend in the UK: "I'm looking forward to racing at Donnington, that should be fun. And am hoping to get in to the top-10 for the two races - maybe top-5; just getting back to racing really."
While catching up with family and friends, Brendon has also been in regular training with James Amon.
"I've just been training like always, it's a racing car driver's job - 1.5 to 2hrs every day. I've been to Auckland and done some publicity work, but I've got to catch up with friends and family too."
"So it's been good fun; training and media is part of being a race driver's job. You have to be fit if you want to be recognised - people respect you a lot more as well. For sure it helps in racing, but also with concentration when you're not racing."
Another graduate of the Elite MotorSport Academy, Brendon says his 2005 schooling has made a difference to his professional life in Europe.
"They (the Academy) opened my eyes, they gave me advice which always helps - nutrition was one thing in particular. In New Zealand we go out and drive the car, the Academy puts you on the right track - the track we get hammered on in Europe."
Nearing the end of his inaugural season with the European based Red Bull Junior Team, he says the future season is very uncertain yet feedback is positive.
"Next year - my plan is to be racing something but I don't know what yet. It's plain and simple - just not up to me. Red Bull is happy with what I'm doing, so it is looking good that I'll be racing something for them. It could be Formula Renault or even Formula 3. So at the moment it is looking pretty good for next year. But nothing is ever decided until the last minute with them."
Finding it tough away from what he is used to, Brendon has made a life for himself at his German home of Oschersleben.
"At the start of the year it was difficult, but now I'm settled in with a routine so things are going a lot easier."
"I guess I've been a little bit of an underdog as the first few race meetings I wasn't doing too well. The last few meetings I've been showing I do have the pace and actually do have the pace to win some races. I guess I wasn't getting a lot of support in the team when you have got a confidence issue and not driving as well. It's not really an excuse, but it's happened - I just wasn't driving as I should have been. I feel like my pace is there now, I'm up the front end of the pace. It was just one of those things - it came with time and the pace is definitely back."
In between his professional life in Europe, Brendon will be in New Zealand for a summer Christmas and will also be on more familiar race circuits:
"I'll be racing the Toyota Racing Series over the summer; the three international rounds at Ruapuna, Taupo and then Manfeild - for Mark Petch Motorsport. My team-mate will be Edoardo Piscopo, the Italian driver from Red Bull who is doing Renault as well. He's not in my actual team - we're both in Red Bull. I get on really well with him and he's a really good driver."