Brendon Hartley has revealed more details about his exit from Toro Rosso at the end of the 2018 Formula 1 season, including that he learned he had lost his seat just one hour after last race of the year.

Hartley spent much of the year facing scrutiny about his future at Toro Rosso after he struggled to match teammate Pierre Gasly’s points haul, ending the year 19th in the final standings.

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Rumours Hartley could be replaced mid-season arose towards the end of May, with the New Zealander writing in his final column for The Player’s Tribune that finding out there was truth to this speculation was one of the toughest moments of his season.

“it was tough, because when I look back now, what I will remember most about it is walking down to the paddock to meet with the media on the Wednesday before the weekend started, and receiving a bunch of questions about my future,” Hartley said.

“Here I am, a handful of races into my F1 career, and I’m being asked about the end. 

“The worst part of that day, though, was finding out there was some truth to the rumours. After a few races, there were some people, it appeared, who didn’t want me there.

“I’ll be honest, this was a bit of a shock. After entering F1 with a wealth of experience, two World Endurance championships, a win at Le Mans, and out qualifying my teammate two out of the first three races, it was hard to for me to believe that there was talk of my being replaced so early.”

Hartley enjoyed an upturn in form through the second half of the season, finishing in the points in Germany and the USA, as well as qualifying sixth at Suzuka, but it was not enough to save his seat for 2019.

However, he was unaware about where his future lay right until after the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

“Like the fans, I had no idea what was going to happen,” Hartley said. “That’s the thing about the politics in F1, it can be a little bit awkward. Everyone sort of walks on eggshells, and there isn’t always clarity.

“So I just did all I could: my job. I out-qualified my teammate and drove to 12th on Sunday night.

“An hour later, I was summoned to a meeting. And a few minutes after that, I was no longer an F1 driver.”

Hartley added: “In the meeting there wasn’t much said. It was clear to me then that from as far back as Monaco there was a plan in motion to move me on.

“That was it. What I thought didn’t matter.”

Hartley ended his column by saying he was still working on racing plans for 2019 and has “a few options,” but stressed he still believes “the F1 door is definitely not closed.”

Hartley’s Toro Rosso seat has been taken by Formula 2 race winner Alexander Albon for 2019, who will partner Daniil Kvyat.

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