Last week, Brendon Hartley joined the long list of talented drivers dropped by the Red Bull junior program. The 20-year-old Kiwi was competing in his second year of Formula Renault 3.5, and had failed to score a victory in 24 starts. Personally, I think Red Bull jumped the gun a little as his lack of race wins fails to tell the whole story.
Hartley, who won the 2007 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, finished third in the ultra-competitive British F3-International Series in 2008 — logging five race wins and 11 podiums. In 2009, he was thrown into one of the most hectic schedules possible, running in both the World Series by Renault and the Formula 3 Euro Series, while also balancing a testing role for F1′s Scuderia Toro Rosso. Talk about diversity. The seat time was excellent, but it’s hard to produce results when you are spread so thin. This year, he completed 11 races in the World Series by Renault before being dropped. During that time he logged eight top-10 finishes and three top-five finishes with a best result of 2nd. He also set the fastest lap of the race at both Spa and Monte Carlo. There’s no question that his results this year, while impressive, were far from stellar. Which is why Red Bull made the decision they did. Obviously, he knew his support from the energy-drink giant was in jeopardy, which couldn’t have helped his results. I have no problem with Red Bull’s decision, but I think they should have let him finish out the season.
Jean-Eric Vergne, 20, who is leading the British F3 Championship, will replace Hartley at Tech 1. Vergne should be able to jump right into the new role as he has already completed four races with the team in the GP3 series. Speaking of Vergne, it’s worth noting that he just swept both British F3-International rounds this weekend at Spa bumping his win total to eight races.
In the karting world, 15-year-old Jake Dennis of Britain won the opening round of the CIK-FIA U18 Championship held at “Prokart Raceland” in Wackersdorf. The next event will be held August 27-29 in Alcaniz, Spain.
Also in international karting — big news here in the United States — the WSK World Series will be making their North American stop this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park. If you’re not counting the SKUSA SuperNationals (which technically isn’t a world event despite the international attendance), this is the first time in twelve years that an “world” event has been held on American soil. The Formula C World Championships were held in Charlotte in 1998. Gary Carlton will be looking for his first international race win in KZ2 and Ron White – who won an international event at Sarno in 2004 – will make his return to international competition. Both drivers should be considered favorites to win this weekend, despite the high-level of competition. There will be 19 North American’s competing in the event.