Remember all of the rumors that current Porsche 919 driver Brendon Hartley was going to Chip Ganassi’s IndyCar team after Porsche shuttered its Le Mans prototype team after this year? Turns out, they were legit—so much so, that the Toro Rosso Formula One team had to negotiate Hartley out of an existing contract to drive for them.
Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost wouldn’t give any details, but he told NBC Sports’ pit lane reporter Will Buxton that negotiations with Ganassi to release Hartley from that IndyCar contract were “long.”
Fans of both series will no doubt offer all the hot takes as to whether Red Bull’s B-team Toro Rosso in F1 is an upgrade over signing with one of IndyCar’s biggest teams, but an episode of The Marshall Pruett Podcast with IndyCar commentator and still-occasional driver Townsend Bell seems to point to an emphatic “yes.”
Not only is F1 a truly global motorsport that’s seen all around the world, but Bell and Pruett note that there’s much more money to be made in F1 right now. IndyCar losing longtime sponsors and struggling to replace them—such as Target, who dropped their support of Ganassi’s teams—doesn’t help the disparity in pay between the two series. (You should really listen to Bell and Pruett’s full breakdown of the Hartley contract swap here, if you’re curious about all the fun inside baseball stuff—it’s pretty fascinating.)
Many are now expecting Hartley to stay in Formula One for 2018, as the team gave him a second drive at the Mexican Grand Prix and has been impressed with his performance now. Tost confirmed that Hartley and Pierre Gasly (the 2016 GP2 champion that ran Toro Rosso’s other car in Mexico) on his radar for just that to Racer:
Both are Red Bull drivers, both are high-skill drivers, fast drivers,” he said. “We want to test them for the rest of the season because there’s a high possibility this will be the driver line-up for 2018.
Hartley seems to get better in an F1 car with every session, and Gasly is just wicked fast in a single-seater. I love where this is going.