Brendon Hartley will maintain Porsche ties alongside Toro Rosso F1
|By Jamie Klein and Valentin Khorounzhiy||Friday, November 17th 2017, 15:30 GMT|
Porsche will maintain a contractual relationship with Brendon Hartley even after he moves into Formula 1 with Toro Rosso full-time in 2018.
Hartley has been a Porsche LMP1 driver in the World Endurance Championship since 2014, winning the drivers' title on two occasions and scoring an overall win in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
He sought alternative employment when Porsche announced the closure of its LMP1 programme, and after coming close to a Ganassi IndyCar deal ended up making a shock F1 debut with Toro Rosso that has led to a full season chance next year.
Asked during Porsche LMP1 team's farewell WEC weekend in Bahrain whether the 2018 Toro Rosso deal affected Hartley's status with Porsche, team principal Andreas Seidl told Autosport: "Not really. Obviously we will put some limitations in terms of what he can do for us, because he will have quite a busy schedule.
"But with the history we have built together, we definitely want to continue.
"The programme within Porsche motorsport is huge, and there will be plenty of opportunities also for Brendon within the Porsche family also in the next years."
While its LMP1 programme folded in favour of a Formula E entry slated for 2019-20, Porsche will retain a presence in the WEC through its GT programme. It also fields works GT entries in the US-based IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Asked whether Hartley could appear for Porsche in GT racing, Seidl said: "Yeah, or using him in tribute stuff with the 919 Hybrid and so on."
He explained Hartley would have the same status as fellow Porsche LMP1 drivers Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani, who will remain "under contract as works drivers" while racing for Techeetah and Dragon respectively in FE.
Hartley said he has not yet "had the chance to think about" any sportscar outings alongside his F1 commitments.
Asked whether he was interested in continuing with a Porsche racing programme too, he said: "100%, but I don't want to comment. First year in F1 there's going to be a lot for me to learn.
"I would race every weekend of the year if I could but F1 is the priority."