The FIA has confirmed that the Kiwi teenager will be a reserve driver at the Spanish Grad Prix
New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley was granted a Formula 1 Super Licence by the FIA, the governing body of motorsport, at the World Council meeting in Paris on Wednesday. Overnight the 19-year-old and has been confirmed as Reserve and Test Driver for Red Bull Racing for the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona on May 8-10.
Hartley will attend the fifth round of the 2009 World Championship at the Catalunya circuit in his new role; back-up to Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The team based at Milton Keynes in Britain is currently second in the F1 Constructors Championship and, after winning the Chinese Grand Prix; Vettel is third in the Driver’s championship.
Hartley tested for the Renault-engined RBR team at an official F1 test in Spain in December last year. He has also tested for the Ferrari-engined Toro Rosso F1 team, sponsored by Red Bull.
“I am very happy to have been granted my Super Licence” said Hartley. “I must thank Red Bull for all their support since 2005 and this new role is another step on the path to reaching my goal of being a Formula 1 driver. I know that with the new in-season testing ban, I’m not likely to get much cockpit time, but I will be part of the team and will learn a lot from that.”
Since the Formula 1 Championship began in 1950 only eight New Zealand drivers have competed and it is nearly 30 years since the most recent, Mike Thackwell in 1984. The other kiwi drivers to have raced in F1 are the 1967 Champion Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Chris Amon, Howden Ganley, Graham McRae, John Nicholson and Tony Shelly.
Hartley has lived and raced in Europe since the age of 15 when he was invited to a Red Bull Junior Driver assessment course at Portugal’s Estoril Circuit, at the end of 2005. In 2007 he took the championship title in the Formula Renault Euro Cup and last year he came third in the very competitive British Formula 3 series.
The next three weeks will be hectic for Hartley. He is currently in Belgium for this weekend’s second round of the World Series by Renault championship at the Spa circuit. Next week he will attend the Spanish Grand Prix and the following weekend is the opening round of the European Formula 3 Championship at Hockenheim in Germany.
Hartley will compete in the full Euro F3 Championship in a Dallara-VW for the British Carlin team and selected round of the World Series by Renault Championship; as well as his new testing and reserve driver role for Red Bull Racing.