'I said I'm ready and my hand's up' - Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley reveals courageous journey to F1 that almost didn't happen

Brendon Hartley's Formula One drive this year may have been a dream come true but it was a dream that came very, very close to never happening.

In a true story of you can't get what you don’t ask for, Hartley has revealed he approached Toro Rosso boss Helmut Marko, rather than the other way around, to race for the Italian crew.

"When I told him, I said I'm ready and my hand's up," he said.

"You could hear that he was thinking about it - he didn't tell me no.

"He also didn't say much which anyone who knows him well, they'll understand all that."

Getting a F1 chance was hard enough, but what many people don't know is that prior commitments and contracts meant the deal very nearly fell over.

"There was a few moments that it was touch and go let's say that."

But now that the Kiwi driver is home, there’s one thing at the top of his Christmas list

"I crave feijoas!"

Elite diver Liam Stone back helping fellow Kiwis prepare for Commonwealth Games - including his idol

One of our top diving talents is home from the United States for Christmas break, but he isn’t taking much time off from his sport.

Liam Stone is preparing for a busy 2018 as he eyes the Gold Coast's Commonwealth Games in April.

However, The University of Tennessee diver’s moves are being carefully analysed – not just by coaches and teammates, but by a diver who actually used to be the one inspiring him.

"It's cool to watch them and learn and try push the boundaries my boundaries alongside them," Shaye Boddington said.

"I learnt back inward and reverse two and a half which is kind of considered a bit of a men's dive so it was quite cool doing that alongside the boys."

As the only elite diver based in Auckland, Boddington normally trains with much younger and less experienced athletes.

But having Stone and other members of the national squad in town over the past week has helped push her.

So much so that Boddington was able to complete a difficult dive for the first time this week - two and a half somersaults off a 1 metre springboard.

"I think it's a 3.1 degree of difficulty while most women compete 2.4," she said.

"I think there's only 2 women in the world competing at it."

The 31-year-old isn't one for taking the easy road after deciding this year she to make a surprise return to the sport having given it up more than a decade ago.

The Tokyo's Olympics remain her ultimate goal – a target Stone is eager to help her reach.

"As a kid, we would always be looking at the old trophies and the old NZ records and see Shaye Boddington," he said.

"We always kind of looked up to her as a name but never expected to be diving with her."

Diving with the boys can have some downsides though after Boddington dislocated her thumb attempting one move off the three metre board.

But you know what they say - no pain, no gain.

Stone is back in the country from the US and is giving other Kiwi divers some helpful pointers. Source: 1 NEWS


Speedway fans to be treated with new revamped racing series in Upper Hutt

A new motor racing series five years in the making is finally starting to take off in Upper Hutt, but don’t expect to see just one or two types of cars out on the short circuit.

Marty Smith has already signed up his 1989 Subaru Legacy for the event, although he admits the unknown territory is a little bit out of his comfort zone.

"The concrete walls are a challenge," he said.

"We don't really have them out on the rally stages!"

But if you thought his car looked out of place on the track, Jaron Olivecrona's V12 monster is an even stranger sight.

The car is the real deal too - with an engine designed by none other than Formula One Kiwi Brendon Hartley's brother.

"His brother Nelson has built and assembled the whole engine," Olivecrona said.

"Everything inside of it, Nelson has custom made - literally everything."

Olivecrona said he can't wait to swing his car sideways around the Upper Hutt Speedway as part of a revamped motor series, set to cater for every kind of petrol head.

"To bring drifting to Wellington, D1NZ bringing it there – it's something pretty special."

Essentially, organisers are transforming the speedway by adding a tarmac section to the dirt track, allowing it to cater for rally cars, drifters, UTV's, and even two wheelers - all at the same event.

The series is much like the one held last year inside Dunedin's Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Work is well underway with the event to take place in mid-January and with over 140 entrants already confirmed, the series is looking to expand throughout several regions across New Zealand.

With over 140 entrants already confirmed, the series is looking to expand throughout several regions across NZ. Source: 1 NEWS