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Hartley “100 Percent” Interested in Future Sports Car Races Despite F1 Move

Hartley open to future sports car race appearances despite moving into F1 full-time for 2018…

Photo: Porsche

Brendon Hartley says he would be “100 percent” interested in sports car racing appearances in the future, despite moving into Formula 1 full-time from the 2018 season.

Hartley was drafted in by Scuderia Toro Rosso as a stand-in for the United States Grand Prix last month, with his displays earning an extension to the end of the F1 season.

Toro Rosso announced last week that Hartley would be racing full-time next year following the closure of Porsche’s LMP1 program, marking a return to single-seaters for the New Zealander after five years in sports cars.

Hartley, however, is poised to retain links to Porsche next year despite moving into F1, creating the possibility of future sports car one-offs, although he is yet to give it proper consideration.

“I don’t know yet,” Hartley said during last weekend’s Six Hours of Bahrain. “I haven’t had time to think about it to be honest. I’ve had enough other things on my plate. The truth is I don’t know.

When asked by Sportscar365 if he would be interested in any opportunities to race sports cars besides his F1 commitments next year, Hartley said: “100 percent.

“But obviously first year in Formula 1, there is going to be a lot for me to learn. The truth is I don’t know yet.

“I love to race. I would race every weekend of the year if I could. But F1 will be the priority.”

Hartley has recently enjoyed a rollercoaster schedule, with this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix set to be his eighth consecutive race weekend.

In that period, Hartley has won Petit Le Mans and his second FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ title, adding the accolades to his maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans win in June.

“A lot of the stuff hasn’t really sunk in yet and I’ve tried to keep it pretty simple the last weeks and stay relaxed, enjoy it, just focus one step at a time,” Hartley said.

“I’ve had quite a lot on my plate, I have to say. I think when I finally get home, just before Christmas, see my friends and family, I think it will start to sink it.

“My father’s coming to Abu Dhabi which will be the first time he sees me in a Formula 1 car.

“I think even seeing him enjoy that moment, things will maybe hit home a bit as well.”

Walliser: Porsche Driver Scheduling “Really Complex”

With upwards of 20 factory drivers for next year, along with numerous GTE and GT3 championships and one-off races, Porsche is still working on its driver allocations, according to GT motorsports boss Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. 

“It’s a big drivers puzzle,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “We have to plan more than 300 single seats, including published and non-published schedules, team decisions, assumptions, series that limit the number of entries, etc.

“It’s really complex and that’s why it really takes time.”

The German manufacturer’s 2018 programs, including most factory driver placements, will be revealed during its ‘Night of Champions’ awards ceremony on Dec. 9.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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