Paddock magazine December 2014 / January 2015 Issue 70 - Page 67

SEASON REVIEW Jean-Eric Vergne POINTS 22 POSITION IN THE DRIVERS‘ CHAMPIONSHIP 13 WINS 0 PODIUMS 0 POLES 0 RETIREMENTS 5 Scuderia Toro Rosso finished the 2014 Formula 1 season in a rather odd position for a well-funded Formula 1 team. In a season in which the have nots were stuck to the bottom, while the haves shared the spoils, Toro Rosso was resoundingly beaten by the somewhat struggling financially Force India. STR’s problems were, of course, mainly down to the team’s Renault power unit. Ferrari’s PU might have been heavy, but Renault’s “won” the unreliability game, bringing grid-penalties to a number of drivers with Renault-powered cars. Toro Rosso entered the new turbo era with Renault power to facilitate the collaboration with sister team Red Bull Racing. RBR supplied the smaller outfit with the internals of the gearbox and the two Red Bull-funded teams will share the same rear suspension layout in 2015. A driver that is set not to drive that 2015 STR is Jean-Eric Vergne. Vergne’s days in Formula 1 seemed counted when Daniel Ricciardo was picked to replace Mark Webber in Red Bull Racing. The Frenchman was, however, given one more chance in 2014 alongside the young gun Daniil Kvyat. Kvyat’s brilliant racing and qualifying performance earned him 070 / December 2014 Daniil Kvyat POINTS 8 POSITION IN THE DRIVERS‘ CHAMPIONSHIP 15 WINS 0 PODIUMS 0 POLES 0 RETIREMENTS 5 the support of the Red Bull driver development program supremo Dr. Helmut Marko. Embolden by Sebastian Vettel’s four world titles and Daniel Ricciardo’s unbelievable performance in 2014, Marko opted to hand Max Verstappen a 2015 STR contract as soon as the latter joined the Red Bull Junior program. At that point, it was already decided that Vergne was not good enough for STR in 2015. Vettel’s decision to leave the Red Bull family to join Ferrari seemingly provided Vergne’s F1 career a lifeline (even if it was Kvyat that got the Red Bull Racing seat after very short deliberations), until the Frenchman was once again snubbed for Carlos Sainz Junior, the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 champion. Vergne ended up scoring 14 points more than his Russian teammate, but similarly to many other ex-Red Bull Juniors, his F1 future is in no-man’s land. Vergne is a good racer but his negative qualifying record against Ricciardo and Kvyat spelled doom for his Formula 1 chances. Red Bull is looking for the next world champion in its Formula 1 line-up, no more, no less. Having such a glaring weakness as Vergne’s qualifying performance simply does not cut it at that level. 67