Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl believes Brendon Hartley is “well prepared” for his Formula One debut, saying he’s matured “big time” in the four years with the German manufacturer.
The Kiwi was confirmed last week as a replacement to Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso for the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, in a surprise move for the former Red Bull junior driver.
“Brendon getting this chance is obviously great for him,” said Seidl. “I think it’s well-deserved.
“If you look at the development he’s [taken] with us in these four years, I think he matured quite a lot. He had sensational and consistent performances, especially in the last two years.
“It also makes us proud that we could contribute. Him getting back on the radar of Formula One is obviously great for us [as well].”
Seidl, who was responsible for Sauber’s F1 test and race operations until BMW’s exit in 2009, said Hartley’s LMP1 experience has helped prepare him for the challenges he’ll face this weekend.
While not having taken part in official F1 running since 2012, his WEC wins and 2015 World Championship contributed to the points for a FIA Super License, which is required for F1.
“With how he’s developed on our side, he’s well-prepared for Formula One,” said Seidl.
“What’s required in WEC from drivers, you learn and get experience with tire management over the stints. You get experience of management of fuel and energies.
“You’re getting used to the high complex car with a lot of interaction with engineers, during the race in the car, but also outside the car in terms of development. You do a lot of intense simulator work also.
“And being part of such a program, I think you’re used to a lot of pressure.
“First you have five teammates that can do exactly the same and have the same materials, so there’s no excuse. You [also] have strong competitors also.
“Plus if you’re part of such a program like Porsche, you’re used to all the stuff outside the car, [like] marketing, press activities.
“I think he will be well-prepared and I’m absolutely convinced he can do a very good job there.”
Seidl said he’s seen Hartley mature considerably since joining the manufacturer, initially in a testing and development role in preparation for Porsche’s return to top-level prototype competition in 2014.
“It’s difficult for me to judge how he was beforehand but when he started with us, he was obviously still young, and inexperienced in some areas, and a bit shy also,” he said.
“I think with us he had the perfect opportunity, and with us being a new project especially at the beginning with a little bit less pressure, to simply get into it and get used to the pressure.
“With teammates he always had a reference and it didn’t take long for him to be at the same level.
“You see what he’s been doing the last two years on single laps and also how he manages the races. I think he’s ready.”