Brendon Hartley has insisted that he harbours no resentment towards former Carlin Motorsport team-mate Jaime Alguersuari after the Spaniard was handed the chance to make his Formula One debut at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Kiwi had been the Red Bull squad's officially nominated reserve and test driver until the British Grand Prix, when the job was turned over to Alguersuari in a move that many saw as precipitating that reigning British F3 champion's ascent to the top flight. Although it took another round for the point to be proved, Alguersuari will replace the lacklustre Sebastien Bourdais at Red Bull's 'second' team, Scuderia Toro Rosso, in Budapest from Friday, while Hartley remains trying to run parallel F3 Euroseries and World Series by Renault programmes.
"I knew some time ago that Alguersuari would get the Toro Rosso drive, and I have to say that, when I first heard the news, I was obviously disappointed," Hartley told TVNZ
on Monday night, "But, in fact, I think, for me, it would be really the wrong decision to be driving in F1 right now."
The 19-year old admits that there may have been commercial reasons for Alguersuari being selected ahead of him - and ahead of more seasoned competitors such as Takuma Sato and Bruno Senna, both of whom tested with STR earlier this year - but insists that his own form does not necessarily warrant an F1 opportunity. He also admits that he asked to step back from the reserve role to both Red Bull F1 teams because he felt he was 'too stretched, mentally and physically' as he attempted to combine three categories in one season.
"There's a lot of reasons why I am not there - there is a lot of politics, and money and sponsorship goes a long way when you are trying to get a seat [in F1]," he pointed out, "But, at the same time, the racing season has not been going well for me for many reasons, [with] a lot of car issues and some mistakes as well.
"To be an F1 reserve driver was ahead of my goals and, while it was nice to be there, in the end we made a decision [that] it was too much. I needed to do a bit less and concentrate on getting results. I didn't really expect to be the driver to replace Bourdais and I don't feel that I deserve to be an F1 driver just yet.
"If I was put there, okay, it would be nice and exciting, but I have to [remind] myself what everyone else is going to say if I didn't really deserve to be there [on merit]. My racing year hasn't gone well, but I'm still working very hard, I have been fastest during races but nothing has come together and I have had lots of problems. I'm trying hard to put it right in the second half of the season and need a bit of luck on my side."
Hartley revealed that Red Bull had 'kept him in the loop' regarding its plans to replace Bourdais, and have since told him that 'if I do a good job, the opportunity will come to be there', but denied that he would seek to fill Alguersuari's place by returning to the reserve driver role.
"It's more important I get some results and prove myself," he stressed.
The Kiwi currently lies 18th in the World Series by Renault with ten points from ten races after inking a late deal with former team champion Tech 1 Racing, and eleventh in the F3 Euroseries with eight points after eight races with Carlin. Alguersuari hopes to continue his WSbR campaign with Carlin alongside his new F1 commitments. The Spaniard is eighth overall.