Kiwi teen debuts in World Series Renault
New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley has been given an eleventh hour call up to compete in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series opening round at Barcelona in Spain this weekend.
The French Tech 1 Racing team announced overnight the 19-year-old from Palmerston North will contest the first three rounds of the World Series Formula Renault 3.5 Series.
Hartley has already signed to race for Carlin Motorsport in the 2009 Formula 3 Euro Series, but will be able to fit the World Series rounds at Barcelona this weekend, Spa in Belgium and Monaco around his F3 commitments.
Hartley could take part in the first five rounds of the WSR Championship, but would have date clashes for the remaining four. His Euro Formula 3 campaign in a VW-engined Red Bull Dallara will start on May 15.
“I had a call from Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko on Tuesday night with the news; it was the first I’d heard about so it will be an exciting new challenge. It’s a big ask because I’ve never tested a World Series car but I’m up for it and pleased to have the opportunity,” said Hartley.
“The WSR teams have already been testing at Barcelona so this is a real challenge. I get a seat fitting on Thursday and then I get two 45 minute test sessions on Friday before qualifying and two races at the weekend.”
However, Hartley knows the Barcelona circuit having been on pole position at the Spanish track for the Euro Formula Renault finale when he won the 2007 title.
“It’s a late call and will mean some new challenges – I’ve never started a race with a steering wheel operated clutch system and I’ve never done a compulsory race pit stop.
Hartley joins Frenchman Charles Pic at Tech 1, which won the World Series teams' championship last season, and will be one of the expected front runners. Also competing at Barcelona will be New Zealand’s Chris van der Drift and Carlin's Jaime Alguersuari and Oliver Turvey who were Hartley’s team-mates in British Formula 3 last season.
Tech 1 boss Simon Abadie said: "Brendon will do at least the first three events of the 2009 season with us. Depending on his availability, either he'll continue with us for the rest of the year or he'll be replaced by another Red Bull driver.
"With Charles and Brendon we're ideally armed to have a great season. Our recognition by the Renault Driver Development programme and by the Red Bull Junior Team proves that Tech 1 Racing has moved up to another level."