Brendon Hartley warned he must improve on tough season as F1 team looks over 2019 options

Brendon Hartley's rollercoaster season in Formula 1 has taken another sharp turn with the Kiwi driver being told by his team he needs to improve or risk losing his seat for 2019.

Hartley's first full season in the prestigious motorsport circuit has been far from smooth sailing, with the 28-year-old collecting just two points in 14 races.

He has also been involved in multiple crashes this year, including one in the recent Italian GP where he lost his front wheel through contact before the first corner of the race.

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 02:  Brendon Hartley of New Zealand driving the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Honda stops at the side of the track after damaging his car during the start of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 2, 2018 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Brendon Hartley of New Zealand driving the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Honda stops at the side of the track after damaging his car during the start of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy. Source: Getty

While Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly helped Hartley's chances by getting promoted to the senior team for 2019, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko admitted there was still pressure on the Palmerston North native.

"There has to be a big improvement in the last few races of the season," he told Speedweek.

"For 2019 there is no shortlist, but a long list. There are 10 names on there, one with a contract at Mercedes, which is why it probably won't be him.

"But everything is possible."

Hartley sits 19th on the championship with seven races left in the season but remains positive.

"Things still haven't gone my way but I won't let it break me," he said on social media.

The Kiwi will get his next chance to prove himself at the Singapore Grand Prix on September 16.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley of New Zealand pulls his helmet on during the first practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, Friday, March 23, 2018. The first race of the 2018 seasons is on Sunday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Brendon Hartley. Source: Associated Press


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Scott Dixon 'wanted to cry' after IndyCar crash threatened to ruin 2018 title bid

Kiwi driver Scott Dixon has admitted he "wanted to cry" after thinking his chances of a fifth IndyCar title were ruined by a crash at this week's Portland Grand Prix.

Dixon entered the penultimate race of the 2018 season on Monday leading the drivers' championship but after getting tied up in a six car pile-up on the first lap, he was brought close to tears.

"I felt like I wanted to cry for a little bit, actually," Dixon told IndyCar.com.

The Kiwi was however surprised to discover after the crash his car was not seriously damaged and he recovered a substantial amount of ground to go from 21st place to fifth.

The stunning performance saw him not just defend his overall lead in the championship but extend it to 29 points over American Alexander Rossi who finished eighth in Portland.

"I definitely thought it was over before it began," Dixon said. "That old saying, 'better lucky than good,' that definitely played out. I knew it was going to be a pretty lucky day from that point on."

Despite the heroics, Dixon still only has one hand on the title heading into the final race at Sonoma, California on September 17.

The race offers double points, meaning not only can Rossi take the title but Australian Will Power and defending champion Josef Newgarden also have a mathematical chance of winning despite sitting 87 points back.

If Dixon wins in California, the title is his. If Rossi wins, Dixon must finish second or he'll lose. 

Scott Dixon.
Scott Dixon. Source: Associated Press


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Brendon Hartley warned he must improve on tough season as F1 team looks over 2019 options

Brendon Hartley's rollercoaster season in Formula 1 has taken another sharp turn with the Kiwi driver being told by his team he needs to improve or risk losing his seat for 2019.

Hartley's first full season in the prestigious motorsport circuit has been far from smooth sailing, with the 28-year-old collecting just two points in 14 races.

He has also been involved in multiple crashes this year, including one in the recent Italian GP where he lost his front wheel through contact before the first corner of the race.

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 02:  Brendon Hartley of New Zealand driving the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Honda stops at the side of the track after damaging his car during the start of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 2, 2018 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Brendon Hartley of New Zealand driving the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Honda stops at the side of the track after damaging his car during the start of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy. Source: Getty

While Toro Rosso teammate Pierre Gasly helped Hartley's chances by getting promoted to the senior team for 2019, Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko admitted there was still pressure on the Palmerston North native.

"There has to be a big improvement in the last few races of the season," he told Speedweek.

"For 2019 there is no shortlist, but a long list. There are 10 names on there, one with a contract at Mercedes, which is why it probably won't be him.

"But everything is possible."

Hartley sits 19th on the championship with seven races left in the season but remains positive.

"Things still haven't gone my way but I won't let it break me," he said on social media.

The Kiwi will get his next chance to prove himself at the Singapore Grand Prix on September 16.

Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley of New Zealand pulls his helmet on during the first practice session at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, Friday, March 23, 2018. The first race of the 2018 seasons is on Sunday. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Brendon Hartley. Source: Associated Press


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Kiwi F1 driver Brendon Hartley crashes out of Italian GP, Lewis Hamilton wins

For Ferrari, the wait continues. For Lewis Hamilton, it was a dream race.

Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix this morning after starting third on the grid to extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel following an opening-lap collision with the German driver that effectively ended his chances of victory.

Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley had a dreadful start to the race driving for Toro Rosso, he was squeezed between two cars which resulted in him losing his front right wheel through contact.

Hartley started 16th on the grid and didn't even make it to the first corner of the race.

Ferrari had been hopeful of ending an eight-year wait for a win at its home track after taking the front two places on the grid at the Italian GP for the first time since 2000.

However, pole-sitter Raikkonen was overtaken by Hamilton eight laps from the end and the Mercedes driver held on, much to the disappointment of the passionate Italian tifosi fans.

"Today was so difficult. Whilst the negativity is never great, that's what powered me along. I actually accept it," Hamilton said after getting roundly booed on the podium.

Hamilton, who said he rated the win as among the top performances of his career, tied Michael Schumacher's record of five Italian GP victories and extended his overall lead to 30 points over Vettel

"Disappointed but there was nothing I could do," said Raikkonen, who struggled with a tire problem in the final few laps.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, ahead of Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who received a five-second penalty.

The 33-year-old Hamilton pinpointed the collision with Vettel as the decisive moment of the race.

"That was definitely a very, very key moment, getting past him was the immediate goal... my race is not really with Kimi, it's with Sebastian. However, I do need to get past Kimi at the same time," Hamilton said.

"Getting past Sebastian at the beginning was clearly a massive turning point. That definitely took a lot of pressure off ... I could just focus on Kimi for the whole race. We had a couple of good battles."

Vettel had cut the gap at the top of the standings to 17 points with victory at last weekend's Belgium GP. Hamilton put his rival under pressure from the start but Vettel pulled clear and was alongside Raikkonen into the first corner.

Hamilton had another go on the outside heading into the second chicane, inching ahead of Vettel when they made contact, causing Vettel to spin and lose part of his front wing.

The safety car was deployed and Vettel was forced into the pits for a new wing, coming out 18th.

Both drivers complained on team radio but an investigation decided that no further action was necessary.

"Obviously I guess Lewis saw his chance but he didn't leave me any room so I got spun around and couldn't avoid what happened," said Vettel.

"It could have been the other way, which would have been nicer for us, but wasn't and I was facing the wrong way.

"We did well to come back given the damage that we had."

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 02:  Brendon Hartley of New Zealand driving the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Honda stops at the side of the track after damaging his car during the start of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 2, 2018 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
Brendon Hartley of New Zealand driving the Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 Honda stops at the side of the track after damaging his car during the start of the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy. Source: Getty


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Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen takes pole, records fastest-ever lap in Italian GP qualifying

Ferrari will be hopeful of ending an eight-year wait for a win at its home track after taking the front two places on the grid for the Italian Grand Prix for the first time since 2000.

Surprisingly, it was Kimi Raikkonen who edged his teammate and title hopeful Sebastian Vettel in qualifying today to clinch only his second pole position in 10 years — and setting Formula One's fastest ever lap in the process.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, who saw his advantage cut to 17 points last weekend, was third fastest — missing out on pole at Monza for the first time in five years.

"It's only half the job done, tomorrow is a very important part, so hopefully we can get another great result, said Raikkonen, who was last on pole in Monaco last year.

The passionate Ferrari tifosi fans were delighted as Vettel briefly took top spot after crossing the line ahead of Raikkonen at the end of Q3, and the cheers grew even louder when the Finn completed his lap to post a time 0.161 faster.

"It's a special place for sure to get the pole position at our home grand prix in front of our fans ... it's good today, hopefully tomorrow it's very good," Raikkonen added.

Vettel appeared to celebrate before being told on team radio that he had been beaten by Raikkonen.

"We speak later," was Vettel's terse response.

The four-time world champion was asked about the incident in the news conference later but only said: "Clearly I wasn't happy but I won't tell you why."

Monza — known as the Temple of Speed — is the fastest track on the circuit and Raikkonen's lap was at an average speed of 263.587 kph (almost 164 mph), beating the sport's quickest lap which was also set here by Juan Pablo Montoya for Williams in 2004.

The last time Ferrari took pole position for the Italian GP was in 2010, which was also the year it last won its home race, with Fernando Alonso driving.

"(Fans) go crazy whether it's practice or now in qualifying so that's nice to see," Vettel said. "But I'm not entirely happy with the end of my qualifying and that's the emotion that's dominating at the moment."

Vettel became F1's then-youngest race winner when he triumphed in Monza in 2008 with Toro Rosso. He also won the Italian GP in his 2011 and 2013 title years with Red Bull.

Hamilton has won four of the past six races in Monza. The Mercedes driver would tie Michael Schumacher's record of five Italian GP victories with another win tomorrow.

"We gave it everything we could — it's obviously incredibly close between us but they've had the upper hand this weekend," said Hamilton, who was booed by the crowd during his post-qualifying interview.

"Everyone in the team is working as hard as they can to make the difference."

He added: "It was just amazing how intense it was, and that's how racing should be."

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas was a distant fourth, with Red Bull's Max Verstappen fifth and Romain Grosjean of Haas sixth.

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg will start in the back row after they were penalised for taking on new engine parts.

MONZA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza on September 1, 2018 in Monza, Italy.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)
Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Italy at Autodromo di Monza. Source: Getty


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