Career so far
• 2015 WEC world champion
• 2nd Le Mans 24 Hour
• 2014: Porsche LMP1 works driver
• 2013: Mercedes F1 Team test driver
• 2012: Murphy Prototypes LMP2
• 2011: GP2 and Renault 3.5
• 2010: Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso F1 reserve driver
• 2009: Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso F1 reserve driver
• 2008: Toro Rosso F1 test driver
• 3rd Macau Grand Prix
• 2007: Champion Eurocup Formula Renault
• 3rd Formula Renault Italia
• 2005: 3rd Toyota Racing Series
• 2004: 2nd Formula Ford New Zealand
New Zealand has its first Formula 1 driver in 33 years with Brendon Hartley today confirmed to drive for the Toro Rosso team at next week's US Grand Prix in Austin. This big read published in 2015 details his journey to the top of motorsport.
It's pretty damn hard to get a seat at the table of world champions in the pantheon of motorsport. Unlike, for example, the IAAF Athletics World Championships where 49 world titles are handed out each year, motor racing has only six.
What a lot of people don't realise, is that the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile recognises only six motorsport disciplines as being able to anoint a world champion.
They are; Formula One World Championship, World Rally Championship, World Endurance Championship, World Touring Car Championship, World Rally Cross Championship and World Karting Championship.
Everything else is either a sub-category, or a national championship that has global appeal like IndyCar or Nascar. For a small country it is no mean feat that two Kiwis have already laid claim to a couple of titles - Denny Hulme winning the F1 title in 1967 and Wade Cunningham walking away with the Karting trophy in 2003.
When the chequered flag came out after six hours of racing in Bahrain last month, New Zealand had its third world motorsport champion when the Porsche LMP1 car of Brendon Hartley, Australian Mark Webber and German Timo Bernhard crossed the line in fifth place. With their sister car of Roman Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb holding out the Audi of Macel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Bernoit Treluyer, Hartley and his mates were crowned world champions.
"It's sort of sunk in now that we did win the world championship and having my dad there was something special seeing how proud he was," said Hartley.
"That race [Bahrain] will be one I'll never forget. It was very stressful watching, as my stints weren't as difficult as Timo's and Mark's. They really had the problems especially in the last hour knowing the sister car was battling the Audi and had to win the race for us to be champions.
"It was just a very special moment for me, but a big year as well. I've learnt a lot from being a Porsche driver since last year and working with Mark and Timo all fell into place this year.
"It was almost a fairy tale ending to the season with our sister car winning the last race of the season and us winning the world title."
Winning a motor race at the elite level is hard enough on your own, but sharing the car with two other blokes makes it three times harder. It's not like a 400m running relay where the baton is passed to each runner just once; in endurance racing the baton, read car in this instance, is passed to each driver at least twice. And in the case of a 24-hour race sometimes more than four times, so the chances of something going wrong is very much increased.
No two race car drivers are the same and they all have a different way of attacking a race track. Therefore, as you can imagine, they like their respective machinery set up to match exactly their driving nuances. That's okay if there's only one bloke in the car for a race, but when there are three pilots to contend with the engineers have their work cut out.
The ideal situation is to get the car in a window of performance that it does not know who is behind the wheel. A very big ask for the crew of 160 people involved in getting car and driver on the grid. And getting the car to be oblivious of who was driving it may just be the edge Hartley, Webber and Bernhard had over the rest of the field.
"The whole team had to come together to win the title. It's not just Mark, Timo and myself who make things happen; it's the engineers, mechanics and everyone else involved in getting the cars on to the grid," said Hartley.
"I knew Mark from being his reserve driver back in the Red Bull Racing [F1] days. However, it takes time to build a relationship and trust and that's what we've done over the last year and a half.
"We now understand each other very well and I know when I hop out of the car if Timo and Mark are going to like the car or not, and what compromises we all might have to make.
"We're always relaying feedback back to each other and it's a great little partnership we have. It's great in motorsport to be able to have that sort of relationship and team spirit with your teammates.
"Don't get me wrong, we're not there to have a laugh. We are competitive in our own ways and are all pleased to be able to help develop one of the most complicated race cars in the world. It's amazing to be in a programme like this being able to work with Mark, Timo and all the incredible engineers involved on the project.
"It's funny though, all three of us [drivers] are quite different even down to how we produce a lap time. There are small compromises with the car, but we've got it down to such small things. Because there are no egos involved and we are all open about everything, it makes it easier to get the car right.
"I couldn't be happier with the situation I'm in now and I couldn't think of anywhere else I'd rather be."
For a fulltime endurance racer, Hartley is still very much a young fellow. Now imagine being signed up with a team who has one of the most enviable records in endurance racing, and being told you'll be sharing a car with two drivers with a hell of a pedigree in endurance racing (Bernhard) and Formula One (Webber).
As he's mentioned in the past, Hartley grabbed the opportunity with both hands and was almost sponge-like in his effort to listen and learn as much from his teammates as possible. That's all fine from the youngster's point of view, but what must have Webber and Bernhard thought of having to hand the keys over to a relative endurance newcomer on race day?
Sure, Hartley had had a few yahoos in LMP2 with Murphy Prototypes and a stint in the US in a Daytona Prototype with Starworks Motorsport, but we're talking Porsche here with two well established guys with a lot of kilometres under their respective belts.
"It all worked out really well mate, and we deserved it [WEC title]," said Webber from his home in England. "No one driver can win an endurance title and we've had a great couple of years together.
"To be honest Brendon had the biggest learning curve to get through. I'd been in his situation before being a young endurance driver and it's hard to learn and still stick to your guns about what you know.
"He's been able to soak up all the stuff around him and it's been reflected in his driving. He's had some pretty tricky and horrible stints this year and he's just got on with the job.
"It's been such a great little team with everyone building on each other. Our goal was to get the car in such a place that we could all set similar lap times.
"We've all hit it off and we share the driving responsibilities where not just one of us is doing the starts, or qualifying, or night stints - we spread it around.
"It was a little frustrating with the engineers early on trying to get them to do what we wanted to do with the car. We have full trust in Brendon - his pace is so quick and he's so measured in what he does. And with all the results he's got behind him, he's now become a phenomenal sports car driver.
"We knock around a lot together between races, which helps with how the team gels. When it comes to the race, it's not all lovey dovey as we have a job to do and we're all very focused."
While Webber's forte was definitely F1, he did have some experience in GT and endurance racing in the late 1990s. Bernhard on the other hand has had more success at long distance racing than you can poke a stick at including being one of the very few drivers to have won the triple crown of endurance racing - Le Mans 24 Hour, 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. He too thinks Hartley has what it takes to make a long and successful career in sports car racing.
"It's a dream come true to have won the title and to see how much the team has come together in such a short time," said Bernhard from Germany.
"I need a few more days for the world championship to sink in.
"I had had a long time partnership with Roman [Dumas] and when we signed with Porsche I thought we would stay together. But Porsche said we were the most experienced so would be split and put in different cars.
"It was a bit of a surprise in the beginning as we [Dumas] had a lot of success together. I soon realised, even before we got in the car, that there was a lot of potential between Mark, Brendon and me.
"We were all at a different part of our careers but all had a lot of experience in different areas that together made for a strong team. Mark had a lot of knowledge about aero and Brendon was very quick and a young guy.
"Also with Brendon, he had a few years where he had nothing and had to fight very hard and is very tough, which helps. I'm in the middle being the endurance guy. We are a young team but work well together and everything clicked in the second half of the year and that's when the success came [four wins in a row].
"Our feedback for the car is very similar and that's why we are so strong. Brendon might be a young guy but he contributes a lot and I have to say he is very mature for his age. I told him straight away that he has all the ingredients to have a long and very successful career.
"I actually told him last year not to f*** it up and that being a factory Porsche driver at 24 meant he had everything he need to achieve a great deal - and now he's a world champion."
The icing on the cake for 2015 as far as Hartley is concerned, is that Porsche have extended his contract and he's now set to build on his already impressive CV and cement himself as one of the best young endurance drivers in the world.