Kiwi Brendon Hartley is confident he has improved as a driver this season and is expecting some better results in the final few races of the season, starting with the Russian Grand Prix this weekend.

It has been almost a year since Hartley got a surprise call-up to drive for Toro Rosso in Formula 1 and the ride has not been smooth. He has just two championship points to show for his season, which has been marred by an under-performing car, some incredibly bad luck and a couple of missed opportunities.

While rumours still fly that Hartley's seat is very much up for grabs the 28-year-old insists he has improved as a driver during the year.

"I know that I have improved, which is a big thing for any sports person," he told Newstalk ZB. "I can confidently say I have. There have been a lot of experiences, there have been some downs and some bad luck along the way but I know it will all come together at some point.

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"I do feel like I have developed a lot over the year.

"I have had some bad luck with penalties and engines and other stuff that has gone on. Through my whole career I have always said you have to make your own luck but it is fair to say I have been on the wrong end of things too many times this year.

"People do know that and see that."

Hartley's current deal includes a contract for next season though in the mega-wealthy world of Formula 1 teams are prepared to buy drivers out if they feel a better option looms.

The Le Mans winner has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent this year but missed out on a couple of races where teammate Pierre Gasly maximized his performance to score a big haul of points.

"The thing I have against me is that my teammate has score significantly more points than me," Hartley admitted.

"I don't have the points on the board so I need some races for things to come together to show them I can do it under that pressure scenario and things like that.

"They haven't given me exact targets and most of the time they are competing against my teammate.

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"It is a cut-throat world – the driver market has been particularly unsettled the last few months. There is a lot of movement. I am not panicking and I am just focusing on my job.
"I have a contract for next year – obviously things can change quickly.

"The best thing I can do is focus on doing my job."

This will be the first time Hartley has raced at the Sochi track and he has spent time learning the new track on the simulator.

"A new track for me – it is actually built in the Olympic Park from when they had the Winter Olympics a few years ago.

"It is a bit of a car park in terms of undulation and character around the track. It is another street track and another chance to score some points.

"We generally prepare on the simulator before most races and especially races where the driver hasn't been to."