Jean-Éric Vergne

Jean-Éric Vergne

PROFILE

Jean-Eric Vergne started karting at his father’s track at the age of four, and enjoyed success in karts before switching to single-seater racing where he became French champion in 2007 and 2008.

He won the British Formula Three Championship in 2010, his 12 wins from the first 24 races giving him the title with six races to go, and had a brief but less successful foray in the GP3 Series. He also competed in six Formula Renault 3.5 Series races at the end of the season, winning once and being on the podium four times.

On the strength of this he was contracted to drive full-time in 2011, and his five wins during the season meant he finished runner-up in the championship. In 2010 he drove for Toro Rosso in the post-season young driver test in Abu Dhabi, and in 2011 the team announced he would drive for it in practice during the final grands prix of the calendar. He impressed enough to gain a race seat at Toro Rosso when the team decided to change both drivers at the end of 2011.

His debut season saw him score 12 points, but overall he was overshadowed by team-mate Ricciardo. Qualifying proved to be a bit of a weakness and he failed to make the cut for Q2 on ten occasions. Nevertheless, there were signs of potential and he was retained for 2015.

Then came the big chance as Mark Webber announced his retirement and the two Toro Rosso drivers were in pole position to take the vacant seat at Red Bull in 2015. However, it was Ricciardo who responded the stronger and edged out Vergne, leaving him to face a third year at Toro Rosso with little chance of a promotion in the near future.

Strengths and Weaknesses
He is obviously talented but struggled to show it at times in his debut year. Vergne’s lack of one-lap pace compared to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo meant he was often caught out in Q1 but he put in some impressive race performances to make up for it.

Career High
Racing from 16th on the grid to eighth at the finish at the Korean Grand Prix, passing team-mate Ricciardo on the way.

Career Low
Being outqualified by the two Caterhams at the 2012 Canadian Grand Prix after damaging his car with a clumsy error in final practice.

Quotes
“I actually don’t believe so much in that rookie status thing. I am a fully-fledged driver.”

“Some people will tell you that we [Ricciardo and Vergne] are in a fight for the Red Bull cockpit, but I don’t see that right now. I am racing for Toro Rosso and I want to help make the car a points contender.”

Trivia
Vergne’s second favourite sport after motor-racing is sailing.

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