Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014

Who should Red Bull hire for Toro Rosso in 2015?

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Daniil Kvyat, Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Shanghai International Circuit, 2014Sebastian Vettel’s decision to leave Red Bull at the end of the year has left the team facing a tricky decision.

Red Bull stunned the F1 world in August by announcing it would promote Max Verstappen to Formula One with Toro Rosso next year. The original plan was for him to accompany Daniil Kvyat at the team, but with the Russian moving up to Red Bull next season another driver is needed to fill the gap.

The Red Bull junior programme is the team’s preferred source of new driving talent and there are several names on it who stand out as potential occupants of the seat.

But who deserves it most?

Carlos Sainz Jnr

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Formula Renault 3.5, DAMS, Jerez, 2014The son of two-times World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz is surely the favourite for the seat. The 20-year-old from Madrid is the most high-profile success story in the Red Bull Junior Team at the moment, having become the first driver from the programme to win the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.

Sainz set a new record by winning seven wins from seventeen races in the category. But his performance wasn’t as emphatic as the sheer numbers suggest. Having slotted into the DAMS seat occupied by previous champion Kevin Magnussen, Sainz struggled to shake off the perception that he was making the best of a well-sorted car.

His performance in the season finale at Jerez did little to challenge that view. At a venue where the teams were racing for the first time, Sainz failed to score in either race. On other days he was imperious. Sainz’s rivals didn’t see which way he went at Paul Ricard, as he shrugged off the growing pressure from title rival Roberto Merhi and the disappointment of being overlooked for Verstappen at Toro Rosso.

The chance he might now join the driver he was passed over for is an enticing one, but whether that will happens depends on whether Red Bull believe they can find a solution to why he has so many off-days.

Jean-Eric Vergne

Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Monte-Carlo, 2014By initially announcing Kvyat and Verstappen as their drivers for 2015, Toro Rosso appeared to have given a final verdict on Jean-Eric Vergne’s future with Red Bull. Before the Vettel news, Vergne explained he was looking for a seat outside their programme.

Like so many before him, Vergne had covered the standard two/three-year spell at ‘Red Bull Junior’ and failed to present a compelling case for why he deserved to drive an RB11. First his more experienced team mate gained promotion, then his significantly less experienced replacement did likewise.

But Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost was at pains to highlight Vergne’s qualities as a driver, and has described him as the best racer to pass through Toro Rosso’s doors who didn’t gain a place at Red Bull.

And it’s not hard to see why Toro Rosso might not want to place a second rookie alongside the Verstappen – who will be F1’s youngest driver by almost two years. Vergne might just be granted a stay of execution.

Alex Lynn

Alex Lynn, GP3, Monza, 2014Red Bull promoted the reigning GP3 champion to F1 this year and it could happen again. Lynn is virtually assured of the GP3 championship when the field reconvenes in Abu Dhabi for the final round of the season at the end of next month.

Unlike Kvyat last year, Lynn hasn’t also been keeping a foot in the F3 camp this season, but he will return to the category for the Macau Grand Prix next month. Are Red Bull waiting to see him go up against the likes of Verstappen and Merhi in that prestigious race before making their decision?

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly, Arden, Formula Renault 3.5, Moscow, 2014A solid first season in Formula Renault 3.5 saw Gasly, last year’s champion in the 2.0 Eurocup, finish as top rookie behind Sainz. What’s more, he claimed more podium finishes than his fellow Red Bull junior driver, though while Sainz was only ever on the top step Gasly never made it there once.

His season had the consistency Sainza’s lacked, however, and the fact Red Bull chose to run him in GP2 – the first time they’ve put a driver in that category for six years – suggests they do have big plans in mind for the 18-year-old.

Antonio Felix da Costa

Antonio Felix da Costa, DTM, 2014For Da Costa, the star of Red Bull’s junior team in late 2012, the moment has surely passed. He dazzled after his mid-season introduction to Formula Renault 3.5, winning four of the last five races. But after failing to deliver the title in 2013 he now finds himself in the DTM.

As competitive as Germany’s touring car championship is, it also has an unfortunate reputation as a place where once-promising F1 talent is left to wither on the vine. Like Vergne, the concern for Da Costa is that Red Bull has already made its final decision about his future.

Another driver

Start, GP2, Red Bull Ring, 2014Drivers outside the Red Bull programme know the Toro Rosso seat is off-limits for them. However things can change quickly – Verstappen wasn’t a Red Bull junior driver until six days before his Toro Rosso deal was announced.

Many of the other leading drivers in junior categories are already aligned to other teams, such as Felipe Nasr (Williams), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Esteban Ocon (Lotus) and Antonio Fuoco (Ferrari). And those who have excelled this year, such as GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer, have been around long enough that Red Bull would surely have shown their interest by now if they had any.

Who should Toro Rosso hire for 2015?

Who would be the best choice for Toro Rosso in 2015? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Who should get the second seat at Toro Rosso in 2015?

  • Carlos Sainz Jnr (28%)
  • Jean-Eric Vergne (48%)
  • Alex Lynn (7%)
  • Pierre Gasly (2%)
  • Antonio Felix da Costa (8%)
  • Another driver (6%)

Total Voters: 363

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Images © Red Bull/Getty/GEPA

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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106 comments on “Who should Red Bull hire for Toro Rosso in 2015?”

  1. Marcus Ericsson is much better than his car

    1. Well, the first half of his year was pretty mediocre to be honest, but recently he has taken a big step in performance.

      1. @ultimateuzair He has taken a way faster front wing than his teammate who doesn’t bring so much (or barely any) money, just to be clear.

        1. @hunocsi From the pictures that I have seen, Ericsson only used the new front wing in Suzuka.

          1. For comparison here’s the old front wing he used in Friday free practice and Kobayashi used in the last two weekends: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/eric-12-886×617.jpg

    2. I disagree. I think he and Max Chilton are, by some margin, the worst of the class of 2014.
      While it is true that he has recently started outpacing Kobayashi, there are more than enough reasons to thin that this is in fact due to the team’s very shady situation.

      For the rest of the season, Kobayashi was well ahead of Ericsson. And we’ve seen some abysmal performances by the Swede as well. Take Monaco, where he first shredded the front of his car during free practice and harpooned Massa during qualifying, although the latter was letting him pass. Take Spa, where Lottner hopped into an F1 car for the first time in over 10 years and crushed Ericsson with a margin of more than 1 second, although Ericsson had already done more than 4000 km with that same car. Obviously without learning anything that could help him beat an experienced driver from a very different category…
      I think he is one of the very few drivers who clearly should not be in F1, talent-wise.

      1. the wost of class of 2014? I would put Raikonnen up their as the worst. severly disappointing speed and results from him, and he is being paid far more then the Marussia and Caterham drivers and has much higher paid engineers working with him on setup etc.
        you are gauging talent incorrectly, you have to understand how hard it is to get results in the lower teams in this modern era of F1.

        1. Yeah, Raikkonen has been absolutely rubbish this year. 47 points in a Ferrari which is the 4th-fastest car right now is a dismal performance from him. Alonso has been outclassing him in every single way. I don’t understand why some people still regard Raikkonen as one of the best on the grid right now, when the real current elite group of drivers (Alonso/Hamilton/Ricciardo) are clearly much better. He gets paid more than most drivers and Magnussen is ahead of him in a worse car. Raikkonen is clearly past it.

  2. Vergne deserves better than a Toro Rosso. He should have got the 2015 Red Bull seat. I know Kvyat is good, but he’s a bit too young and Vergne was almost as good as Ricciardo in 2013, so who knows what he would have done with Vettel this year.

    1. From what I have heard JEV does not like to work with engineers after sessions to improve car, in which case you don’t deserve to be in F1. I’m surprised they kept him for 3 years.

      That is reason Marco did not promote him last year or this year.

      1. Where is your proof? I never heard anyone say that.

        1. I heard the same thing from Ted Kravitz during a sky sports broadcast.

          1. I take stories like that with a heap of salt

    1. Me, I got 6 tents and a gas stove.

    2. No, me! I crash less than Pastor Maldonado which is a good enough reason to get the seat isn’t it?

  3. My heart wants me to say Jean-Eric Vergne. He’s clearly good.

    However that seat should be Carlos Sainz Jr’s. Anything less than the Formula Renault 3.5 title (which Kevin Magnussen won last year) would have been a disaster for Sainz, and he has delivered that, despite a few hiccups on the way. But what else could Red Bull have wanted Sainz to do? The logical step is straight into a Toro Rosso seat. He showed good maturity and some good overtaking ability this year.

    It would look a bit silly for Red Bull to deny the main team seat which he deserves twice and for them to tell him that he is sacked only for them to go “JEV, we want you back”. They’ve already told him that the 24-year old is ‘too old’ so I don’t see why they would ask for him back next year, unless he is only there to be Verstappen’s benchmark.

    Alex Lynn picked up where Kvyat left off last year, but although he can place the car on pole and win, I feel that he needs at least a year in GP2 to show his wheel-to-wheel ability.

    Pierre Gasly had a very good season in 3.5 I feel, but I would like to at least see race victories at this level before placing him in higher machinery. It’s the same issue that I had with Felipe Nasr prior to this season.

    I think that with Antonio Felix da Costa, we should put his DTM performances aside. DTM isn’t exactly the best way to determine how well somebody does in a Formula One or any other single seater car. That poor season seriously hurt him, and although he is racing in Formula E, I can’t help but feel that he might be a tad race rusty.

    As for other drivers, unless they suddenly pick up another ‘next big thing’, I cannot see anybody else in that seat at all.

    1. @craig-o – Any less than the title would have indeed been a disaster for Sainz, since he was in the fastest car and against the poorest field in FR3.5 since 2011. And yet with two rounds to go Sainz was just sixteen points ahead of Merhi having lost twenty-three in Hungary alone. Yes, Sainz’s Paul Ricard weekend saved him, but I would still argue that Lynn has been more impressive, and has been wrongfully smeared by a car incapable of following another. I would highly doubt seeing Alex at Toro Rosso though, sadly.

      1. @william-brierty I’m in doubts about this poll. I know even a few days ago I said Sainz Jr. is a no-brainer because of him winning FR3.5, but then again, there are very decent arguments to be made for Lynn (although others won more, he was the most consistent) and certainly Gasly as well. Gasly has performed so consistently well, especially for his rookie season, and he would have deserved to win a few races. He just needs a little more decisiveness in overtaking.
        Then there’s Merhi, clearly talented, great comeback in single-seaters, but he’s not a member of the Junior Team and I don’t think they would take him. I know they did sign Verstappen to the Junior Team just a few days before granting him the STR seat, but I think that’s an edge case that won’t be easily repeated. However I’d love them to sign Frijns in the same way and go for an all-Dutch STR. A man can dream :)

        But all in all, I’ll still vote Sainz Jr. Give Lynn a seat in FR3.5 next year and let him and Gasly dice it out (keeping in mind that it will be Lynn’s rookie year of course). See if Lynn can consistently qualify on the front row, see if both can be decisive in their overtakes, and see if both can handle De Vries. That would be interesting.

        1. @mattds – The issue with Sainz is that being FR3.5 champion and having extensively tested in F1 his is now as ready as he’s ever going to be, whereas Lynn has never driven anything faster than a GP3 car. What I predict will happen is that Vergne will keep his seat and be there to mentor Verstappen, and a year from now either Lynn or Gasly will take his place (I think Gasly is being placed in GP2 in 2015 not FR3.5, to see if he can “do a Vandoorne”, whilst we hopefully have Lynn vs De Vries vs Rowland to look forward to in FR3.5). I know that is a touch harsh on Carlos, but he did have by far the best car this year and only had competition from rookie drivers, and he just doesn’t appear as polished a driver as Magnussen was last year, or indeed as Vandoorne is now. The worry for Carlos is that he will get compared to Magnussen, who scored 50 points more in the same number of races in the same car but with competition from Da Costa and Vandoorne.

          What is clear is that the 2015 FR3.5 season is going to be amazing, and Lynn has a real chance to elevate himself to a Vandoorne-grade star if he can take it to De Vries straight away. Conversely, with Stoffel set to sign a DAMS GP2 contract, there is no ambiguity over the identity of the 2015 GP2 champion.

          1. @william-brierty good points about Sainz. It is true that he is now as ready as he’ll ever be. And it is also true that he hasn’t always been dominant. He’s had some misfortune (season opener in Monza, Sunday race at Nürburgring), but he’s had less than stellar weekends as well, particularly in Moscow and Jerez. Those were really bad.
            The comparison with Magnussen is probably an apt one. Magnussen, apart from Monaco, finished on the podium at least once in every round of the 2013 season. Which is impressive.

            There’s just one thing I’m doubting now, and that is the quality of their opponents. Is it a given that the combined competition by Gasly, Merhi and Rowland poses less challenge than that of Vandoorne and Felix da Costa? Gasly might be better than we think, he’s also an FR2.0 winner that graduated to FR3.5 and finished second in his first season. Merhi didn’t drive single-seaters for a few years but quickly regained the pace that his earlier single-seater career would suggest he has. So maybe it isn’t that clear-cut.

            Those lesser rounds could see Sainz Jr. miss out on the STR drive. Red Bull isn’t the type of team that go for the “good enough” type of driver. But then I wonder why they would keep Vergne – he was already dropped once (when Verstappen was signed) so that means they had no problems pairing Kvyat and Verstappen. I could see them pairing Sainz Jr and Verstappen as well.

            Lastly, I agree on the 2015 FR3.5 season. Can’t wait to tune in again!

          2. @mattds – Perhaps it was not fair to purely compare points with Magnussen, since Sainz had two no scores due to circumstances outside his control, whereas Magnussen had one. But the fact that Magnussen appears on the podium at every round of the season other than Monaco, whereas Sainz fails to log a podium at Moscow, Hungary, Jerez and Monaco, is still important and won’t be lost on a certain Mr Marko.

            But then there is the nature of Carlos’ opposition versus that of Magnussen. I think there are reasonable grounds to argue that Kevin’s batch of rivals were the more formidable. Kevin had two second year opponents, Da Costa and Sorensen, whilst Sainz only had the feeble attempts of Sirotkin and Stevens. In both cases the major competition were posed by rookies. Was the combined total of Merhi, Gasly and Rowland’s efforts really able to match that of Vandoorne’s lone hand: a driver I am beginning to think is a Hamilton-esque talent? No.

            The point you make about Red Bull being initially happy to partner Verstappen with Kvyat is a brilliant one, and does make Sainz’s case look much more plausible. I suppose since STR’s sole utility, other than as a commercial platform, is to farm young drivers, it would make sense to give Sainz “a trial” knowing that there is a fantastic young Brit or a fast young Frenchman to take his place should his occasional raggedness translate in F1. But I can’t help feeling Marko is willing to bend the rules if it means helping what he is adamant is a landmark talent in Max Verstappen, so now he has the opportunity to have an experienced driver alongside him, he might just take it. Right here, right now, I couldn’t tell you who will be in the second STR seat for 2015.

          3. @william-brierty I fully agree with that last point – I have no idea either who will be in it. I voted Sainz Jr, but I’m very much in doubt whereas halfway through the season I thought he was a shoe-in (and then Verstappen happened :) ).

            I’d like to agree with you on the quality of the FR3.5 field last year and now. I have that feeling myself, but I was wondering whether I can judge objectively enough. I’m Belgian, seeing Vandoorne winning in front of my own eyes at Spa 2013 was an incredibly joyous occasion even though it was “only” FR3.5. So I reckon I can be a bit subjective about him. But yeah, you could be right.

          4. @mattds – You are right to be subjective about the brilliance of Stoffel Vandoorne, since he is perhaps one of just three drivers to have competed in the junior categories since Hamilton’s 2007 promotion, with Hulkenberg and Frijns being the other two, worthy of being dubbed “WDC material” on junior results alone (Bottas, Ricciardo and of course Vettel ascended to having “WDC potential” after their respective F1 debuts). Let’s hope the mature, stunningly fast and above all cerebral driver we see in Stoffel gets the F1 opportunity he deserves soon (Marussia is a genuine opportunity if they can find buyers), and let’s hope when he inevitably arrives that he does your country proud.

  4. Vergne. To me it seems a case of Helmut simply not liking him. He proved he could match Ricciardo in 2013 and has improved this year. I know Kvyat is a rookie but Vergne’s often outshone him in the races, and that’s where the point are, not Qualifying.

    1. this is the problem with the Redbull junior programme, a driver can be totally shut down in his f1 attempts by one arrogant man – Helmut Marko – who I consider one of the worst figures in motorsport – a very uncompromising, and unsportsmanlike person, I do not understand why Redbull hires him, he is so close minded, and ruins drivers careers with the diplomatic power he has in one of the worlds richest racing teams.

      1. He selects drivers and they are helped in all kinds of ways so they don’t have to worry about anything but driving. As long as they keep on performing great, they have a good chance to get into F1 – arguably a higher one than other young drivers whether they’re in or out of a junior programme. And it’s not like they are forbidden to join other teams (just look at Vettel for that), so if other teams would want to pick them up, they can.

        And I don’t see how you don’t understand why they hire him. Has his way of running the Junior Team not been proven to work by now?

    2. ” I know Kvyat is a rookie but Vergne’s often outshone him in the races”

      I don’t know… I thought they were both pretty equal in the often-used “finished ahead when both finished” stats. Now, one would expect someone in his third season to outshine a young rookie, but I don’t think “outshine” is the right word to use.

      Vergne has had his time at STR. He always knew the deal he would get, and he similarly was part of the duo that ousted the previous duo while there was something to be said for at least the qualities of Alguersuari. Same deal, just 3 years later. And in any case, RBR had already decided to drop Vergne, so why keep him? They’ve shown a few times in the past that they can benchmark rookies next to each other just fine.

  5. Keeping Vergne for another year is the best way to judge Verstappen’s performance, so I voted for him.

    1. It is. I’d go with this as the most sensible option.

    2. not necessarily @diceman , I voted for Vergne but not as a way to see where Max will be, just because he can bring points quite often, and Max’s first cityshow has left some people thinking he will be nervous.

  6. It has to be between Vergne and Sainz Jr. I do believe Vergne deserves to still get a drive, but with the philosophy of Toro Rosso, I can’t see it being Vergne, so I imagine Sainz Jr will get the nod. Personally I think the line-up should be Sainz and Vergne and not Verstappen, but with that not being the case, I’d like to see Vergne still. And with that, it will also show how good Verstappen can be, against someone who’ll be in their 4th year.

  7. If I could choose any man from that list to receive an STR drive it would be Da Costa; it’s not going to happen obviously, but I would choose Antonio. I just think he is way too talented, probably on par with Kvyat, to be going around at the back in DTM and showing guest drivers like Alain Prost how to drive a modern F1 car. Had Arden’s GP3 not made the huge steps forward over the 2013 summer break Kvyat would not have won the title, Da Costa would have got the drive and would have likely been handed a contract to replace a quadruple champion come Suzuka, and the fact simple team dynamics, i.e. Arden having a poor year in FR3.5 in 2013 but a great one in GP3, is such a central factor in such immense disparity in the outcome of formerly parallel careers is a shame. NOTE: I would not place Da Costa in F1 ahead of Vandoorne or Frijns, but he certainly has F1 potential from where I’ve been sitting.

    Regarding the realistic candidates, Sainz is no longer in pole position for the seat. I think Red Bull are realizing how essential it will be to have experience on hand to help to incredible prospect of Verstappen to grow, so in that respect another rookie would a hindrance. I would also like to think they’ve realized the true depth of talent they have with JEV. But what if Sainz or Lynn has more? That is the question being pondered by Marko, a job made harder by the fact that there is seemingly little to separate Alex from Carlos, who despite prevailing in their respected championships have both been prone to off-colour weekends. In that regard it is strange that the candidate with perhaps the best junior record, Gasly, who was also beautifully consistent in 2014, is viewed as the outside bet.

    To summarize it is a battle between Sainz and Vergne, and expect Vergne to emerge on top, albeit it is always gratifying when junior skill is given the credit it deserves and on that note I hope Lynn and Gasly are given genuine consideration.

    1. Da Costa is already in the past.

      1. @xtwl – As is also the case with Bird, Frijns, Calado and Wickens, you are sadly right.

    2. Da Costa wasn’t that impressive IMHO. But I’ve heard nothing but good about Lynn and Gasly, I hope they eventually make it into F1. Went for Vergne in the poll though.

      1. @paeschli – Regarding Da Costa you can see my thoughts in this excellent debate I had with @mattds where I argue that Antonio’s disappointing form in 2013 was thanks to a sub-optimal Arden team…

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/10/17/daniil-kvyats-route-f1/#comment-2611318

  8. If Toro Rosso was a normal team Vergne would be the obvious choice, but I think his ship has sailed unfortunately, I can’t see Marko changing his mind now.

    For me it’s between Lynn and Sainz. If I were them I’d go for Sainz as they need someone with _some_ experience in the team alongside Verstappen. Lynn in my opinion has more potential, but he could use more testing experience. Having said that, they passed by the conventional wisdom when they took Kvyat on this year, so it’s possible they could take Lynn next year.

    1. Oh and I forgot:

      Frijns!

      1. Frijns must be swearing himself now, with his infamous quote, “Red Bull treats its driver like a dog.” Guess what, I believe if he joined them at the time, he could now driving in one of STR seat and major contender for next year RB. What a shame that really was!

        1. Indeed. A real shame we can’t see him in f1.

  9. Its a tough one. One one hand Verne has had such a great season it would be F1’s loss if he doesnt get a drive for 2015, but on the other hand he’s had 3 seasons with the team, and Toro Rosso are a feeder team who should be promoting their younger drivers. So i opted for Sainz. this would have been much easier if they had a 3 car team :-)

  10. António Felix da Costa would be the right choice. He’s a very good driver and always very motivated. Last year, Toro choose between Kvyat and Da Costa, so maybe this year maybe it is the right time for the portuguese driver.

  11. Obviously Alonso.

    1. Nice 1 ,you beat me to it!

    2. This would make a lot of sense.

      Red bull will only take drivers that have come from the junior team, so all Alonso has to do is take a year there and then in 2016 he could be in a red bull IF he can beat Verstappen.

    3. @matt90, OK so it’s silly season, but the mystery behind Alonsos drive, to me, adds a little credibility to the suggestion that Audi may be comeing to F1 at last, it would make sense for Audi to buy a well equiped team and put their favoured driver in there to find the weaknesses before putting their name and engine onboard in 16, Domenicali is already on the payroll and Dieter is said to be connected through other disciplines.

  12. Sebastian Vettel. I think he might deserve another chance. Toro Rosso might be the place to do so when Ferrari & McLaren announce that they’ll keep their lineup for 2015 ;)

  13. Keeping Vergne would surely help Verstapen’s development. But Red Bull’s junior programme has other purposes. Vergne had his chance, didn’t take it, so he must go. He showed consistency, but you can win RBR seat with pure seat and consistency comes with experience, which Ricciardo showed this year. And he has way more raw speed than Vergne.

    Logical step would be Sainz Jr., but question mark hangs over his head – he won FR3.5 but he didn’t show he’s the real deal – inconsistent, sometimes fast, sometimes not. The way RBR dumped Da Costa shows Sainz Jr. might not get a seat after all.

    I voted for Gasly. As a rookie, he showed some real promise. Though he didn’t win a race (it was his debut season in FR3.5), he did show flashes of raw pace and in addition was consistent.

    I nearly chose Lynn, but he was driving in slower formula and needs a season in faster formula, though Kvyat proved us wrong last year about that.

    Da Costa is a different matter. He really deserved seat in F1, but RBR’s programme is quite cruel and one bad season overshadows previous glory. So knowing RBR’s philosophy, they Da Costa is done matter.

    But I’d consider one more option – Frinjs. He is a future champion, which might not ever get into F1. He is a real talent and won FR3.5 in more fascinating fashion that Sainz Jr., has much more raw speed and deserves at least one season to prove his worth.

    It’s hard to tell at the moment, but if I had to put my money, I’d put them on Gasly or Lynn.

  14. Everyone suddenly has forgotten about Mehri

    1. @robertg Merhi who’s mentioned twice in the article?

      1. But in a poll. He done some testing, I think he is more likely than any of them, apart from maybe Sainz.

        1. He isn’t in the Red Bull Junior program, and they wouldn’t are highly unlikely to put a non-RB driver in a Toro Rosso seat, especially as he’s been outscored by two RB juniors this year with another on the way to the GP3 title. But there’s the option in the vote to for “Another driver”.

        2. @robertg That’s why ‘another driver’ is listed as an option.

          I agree Merhi’s a talent but surely there would be no bigger slap in the face Red Bull could give to Sainz and Gasly than by hiring the guy they just beat and putting him in an F1 car? At any rate, it’s pretty unlikely.

  15. Liam Radford (@)
    26th October 2014, 13:12

    Sainz.
    Vergne shouldnt waste his career at Toro Rosso, he would be better signing for a midfield team.
    Lynn and Gasly should be given FP1 sessions.

  16. A lot depends on whether Marussia and/or Caterham are in F1 next year.

    If both are not then I assume at least the top four teams will enter 3 cars. But that will not suit the fifth team, so I assume they will push for third car as well.
    Wouldn’t Red Bull want a third car at Torro Rosso as well, if for no other reason than to give them a chance to observe more of their young drivers, like those listed above.

    1. I don’t think next year we’ll have three car teams in F1. It’d mean a financial disaster for half of all competing teams, therefore F1 would quickly be destroyed.

      1. Totally agree, IF, someone thinks it through and points out to Bernie the flaws in his plans for 3 car teams.

        But if he insists on keeping to his plan of three car teams then it is almost certain the bottom three at least will drop out by the end of that season.

        Therefore will will have to have four car teams … … etc. etc.

        1. Actually if you think it through FINANCIALLY, fewer teams means a bigger share of the pie for each team, greater resources per car for design and development, ie; 1 design team and 1 allotment of windtunnel and testing will produce 3 cars not the current 2 so the greatest part of team expenditure will not increase.

          1. Please don’t think I am advocating 3 car teams, merely playing devils advocate.

          2. The problem with three car teams is that four teams could afford to have two cars fail between them and still have the remaining teams get virtually nil chance of gaining any points. Even he fifth ranking team would be really struggling.

            Try using this seasons results, remove the two bottom teams and insert the third cars in reasonable positions. I think we would have had more Mercedes one-two’s and probably as many as eight races with Merc 1-2-3’s. And also take note if a third car is in the top ten, then the points for that position are lost to everybody.

            I think if three car teams becomes the norm, then it will quickly become four car teams and nobody will introduce new teams because it will be almost impossible, worse than now, to get points and climb to ladder.

  17. if Toro Rosso had the chassis and engine of the Mercedes, then Vergne would probably do the same job as Rosberg and Hamilton and his seat would be safe, but he doesn’t have that luxury, he has to drive superhuman beyond the ability of the other drivers on the grid to keep his seat now -as his teams race position never improves, and Redbull have their program so a younger driver is needed. it is a shame f1 is this way. it is a very pretentious sport. Verge may well have won 3 races at redbull this year like Ricciardo did if he was chosen instead of ricciardo, instead now it looks like he will have to settle for DTM or something instead of f1 if Marko has his say. we can look back in 5 years and compared Ricciardo and Vergnes careers, careers perhaps decided by one dirty man.

    1. Marko doesn’t prevent other teams to sign Vergne. Other teams are free to do so if they deem him good enough for it.

      Vergne got 3 years in F1 which is way more than most young drivers ever will. You can call that “dirty”, I call that an opportunity. A fantastic one.

  18. Well, I don’t know if Audi is having problems to decide, but I voted for Vergne. Probably for one more year. But let’s wait and see which decision Audi will take… ;)

    1. So you believe Ron and Fred have kissed and made up?

    2. @hohum, @hunocsi, My comment was not serious. I was joking about the rumours around Audi. :)) But, beside that, I maintain my vote in Vergne.

  19. They should wait to see if the 3-car/team plan gets real. If yes:
    Redbull: Ricciardo, Kvyat, Grosjean
    Torro-Ross: Vergne, Verstappen, Sainz

    Hire Grosjean for his obvious talent, and keep Vergne in Torro-Rosso as a reference. Not saying that Vergne is less talented than Grosjean, but they need Vergne at Torro-Rosso. Besides, Grosjean is sponsored by Total, and so is Redbull.

    1. “Redbull: Ricciardo, Kvyat, Grosjean”

      Not realistic, they only pick drivers from their programme. It would be Ricciardo, Kvyat and Vergne then.

      1. @paeschli, They considered other drivers when Webber left. Like I said, they need Vergne to compare their rookies with. It’s not likely, but it’s possible. But let’s wait and so how the 3-car thing turns out..

        1. @me4me

          Surely if they were considering other drivers, they’d hit up Alonso in the blink of an eye for their third seat?

          1. @cgturbo, Surely if there were to be 3-car teams, Alonso would join Mercedes

          2. @cgturbo Good point :P

          3. @me4me

            Did I really just quote myself by accident XD lol whoops!

          4. @me4me

            Horner said they never actually considered Raikkonen.

        2. @me4me Back then their Junior program weren’t well established, they needed a more experienced driver, and Webber was quite close to the team as he was with them as Jaguar before for two years.

  20. Given they have Verstappen in the other seat, I’d go with Vergne. And if they were running like a ‘proper’ team, I’d also say Vergne.

  21. As I understand it, GP2 is the feeder series from which F1 drivers should be taken. That means none of the mentioned drivers should be chosen, the driver who should be chosen should be from that series.
    As I see it, the driver chosen should be someone like Jolyon Palmer, Felipe Nasr, or Stoffel Vandoorne, who (at least according to Wikipedia) are currently 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively in the current round of the GP2 series. After all, the first prize in this series includes an F1 Superlicence, which is a requirement to drive in the F1 series.

  22. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    26th October 2014, 17:43

    Nick Heidfeld.

  23. It should be Jolyon Palmer, its about time a GP2 winner gets an F1 drive

    1. Totally agree.

      1. Palmer has 256 points in the current round of the GP2 series, that is 56 points ahead of the person who is second. Sure, maybe 56 points isn’t “standing out”, but it is hard to stand out as an eagle when you’re flying with lots of eagles. You only stand out as an eagle when you are flying with pidgeons. The whole point of the GP2 series is to train drivers to be good enough for F1, meaning if the training is going well then by now everyone of those Palmer compets with is almost as good as he is, so he won’t stand out as truely exceptional because everyone of the drivers he compets with is also close to being truely exceptional. The only time Palmer and the other experienced drivers would stand out is when the “new crop” turn up, and that appears to be exactly what happened.
        A quick look at the GP2 series results for this year suggests that those who did poorly at the start of this year they have all improved their position they finished in, meaning they have all improved, meaning people like Palmer will find it hard to stand out as being better simply because they are competing with people almost as good as themselves.

        1. Surely Palmer is ‘good enough for F1’, but so are 50 other drivers (just an example). Out of these 51 drivers, I would not pick Palmer.

          1. When you say that you devalue the whole point of GP2: you’re saying “Being the GP2 series champion isn’t good enough to be an F1 driver”. So what do you believe is the criteria for being an F1 driver? GP3? One of the Rally car series? Karting?

          2. Since no one has bothered to say it, I will: Palmer is good enough to be in F1. He is the 2014 champion and the GP2 series isn’t complete. That says to me he has the ability to compete at the F1 level. He won the series that F1 created to draw drivers have come from, so the Toro Rosso seat should be his, and he has a Superlicence.

  24. sainz or da costa. if they get lynn or gasly a seat that would be wrong.

  25. Marco Wittmann (current DTM-champion) has a chance, too. He´ll test a Toro Rosso during winter, and he seems faster, more consistent and with more “Race-intelligence” than Da Costa, he beat Bottas in their F3-euroserie-year… he´ll need to really impress during that test, though.
    I just hope Vergne gets a seat elsewhere, he deserves to be in F1, but it´s time to move out of a junior-team and free-up that spot for a junior. Sainz seems most probable to get the seat.

  26. Very tough choice, and that’s because in my opinion Red Bull and/or Marko made bad decisions in the year so far regarding drivers. Or to go back one more year, I wouldn’t even have given the Toro Rosso seat to Kvyat last year – the time for that should have come now. da Costa’s performance last year wasn’t as bad as some have said – he was up against a really strong grid led by Magnussen and Vandoorne, but Stevens, Muller and Sorensen behind were pretty strong as well. The GP3 field wasn’t as tough, although Kvyat really stood out from that bunch, but I think experience should count for more. Nevertheless, I think da Costa is completely out of the picture for an F1 seat in the eyes of the Red Bull management.

    Experience is the reason why I think this year’s decisions are wrong as well. Verstappen is truly a big talent, might be even Senna’s level, but it’s too early to give a seat – had he dominated the field in the points, then okay, but he made some mistakes, and he should have at least one more year in a car that’s somewhere between F3 and F1 – either FR3.5, GP2 or GP3.

    Then we come to Kvyat’s promotion to RBR. Again, too early, had he dominated Vergne, okay, but Vergne got the better of him and his experience should be rewarded – he should have got the chance for a year to prove himself in the big team, if he failed, Kvyat could take over, he would still be only 21. But the way it turned out I don’t think they will keep Vergne, I’m a big fan of his but he doesn’t seem to be favored by Marko, especially with the talent pool below.

    So we come to the decision which junior driver to take. Sainz had a good season, but I don’t think he dominated the field as much as he should have with the car and setups he was given by DAMS, I don’t feel his concurrence was too strong – Stevens was quite weak compared to last year, Rowland and Gasly were good as rookies and Merhi found pace too late into the season. Apart from the wins which were pretty much all lights-to-flag victories he didn’t have a podium and he didn’t perform that well in the middle of the bunch, so I don’t think he is the one to pick. Gasly had a relatively strong average performance but he didn’t have a single standout drive, and that’s why he didn’t score a victory, he definitely needs another year of experience.

    In the current circumstances I would choose Lynn. I really like the way how he earned his Red Bull Junior contract (link: http://www.redbull.com/en/motorsports/f1/stories/1331683221791/alex-lynn-interview-october), he did that by winning the Macau GP ahead of da Costa, and he really bossed the current, very strong GP3 field from early on – but I sense that his slightly weaker weekend in Russia and thus not winning the title might put off Red Bull from signing him, but a convincing performance in Abu Dhabi could earn him the Toro Rosso seat. Although I don’t think he is the top favorite – that is Sainz for winning a championship that’s stronger on paper, but as ever in motorsport, results alone don’t tell the whole story.

    We won’t know how my choices would have panned out, so far Marko’s aren’t proved wrong (Ricciardo was a great pick, Kvyat isn’t too bad either), but as Sainz isn’t the greatest talent neither a very convincing fighter in the pack and as I feel he is to be confirmed as the next driver, Marko might make his first mistake in a while.

  27. Sainz. That guy is a real talent and I’ve liked him since he tested for ART in GP3. It’s Verstappen that shouldn’t be in the car and Vegne should have that seat. I hope Vergne can find someone to drive for in 2015.

  28. I am curious in the hypothetical of three car teams who does red bull run in the third car. If the third car doesn’t score points would Verstappen be the best fit . He would be shielded from the pressure of the championship and he gets to develop in the RB11

  29. I think Red Bull is too harsh on its junior drivers. A few bad weekends does not mean a driver does not have potential – or what it takes to succeed in Formula 1. Judging by the way they have dumped some of their drivers, even Vettel would not qualify for their 2015 Toro Rosso seat.

    So it would not surprise me too much if they dumped Sainz for his occasional inconsistencies and disappointing season finale. If they do, I think they will get Vandoorne for the second Toro Rosso seat. They have shown interest in him before (Monza last year), though if course they would have to pry him away from McLaren.

    1. True, but Red Bull is no kindergarten. They have Vettel (still), Ricciardo, Kvyat, Vergne, Verstappen, Sainz, Gasly and Lynn. All 8 are easily good enough for a race seat, but Red Bull ‘only’ has 4 seats. So 4 drivers that are good enough to be in F1 don’t get a chance (yet). With the luxury Red Bull has, you can be picky: either you’re in (a F1 seat) or you’re out (of Red Bull). You know that when you sign.

  30. I think Carlos.

  31. ColdFly F1 (@)
    26th October 2014, 22:56

    heart says Vergne, logic says Sainz.

  32. I want to say JEV, but I don’t want to see him in a Red Bull sponsored car. Toro Rosso is a dead end team and unless he wants to kill another year of his career, I think his best option is to look for a contract elsewhere (as difficult as that may be). Then again, if he can find a contract elsewhere AND drive in F1…

  33. Why is there always so much hate for “going to the DTM”? It’s a fantastic championship, with brilliant drivers. Frankly in many ways it’s a step up from F1. Anyway I went for JEV, more out of hope than real belief, I just love watching him drive.

  34. This is the first “who should go to STR” article I’ve seen that has remembered Da Costa exists! He’d be my choice, I think he deserves another shot after that incredible 2012 season.

  35. The question is “Who would be the best choice for Toro Rosso in 2015?” so the answer needs to be Vergne. He has experience in F1 and with the team and he was very much on par with the 2 team-mates that have been promoted to Red Bull. It seems to me too risky to just put 2 rookies on the team BUT this is a junior team, where they can take such risks, actually gambles, so if the questions was “Who will be in Toro Rosso in 2015?” then I would answer Carlos Sainz Jr.

    My preference is actually Felix da Costa, as he is Portuguese and no doubt a good talent that would do no worse than many others, but after missing the FR3.5 last year and being dumped in DTM is career will now continue on other series but never in F1.

  36. Red Bull will go to Helmut and discuss who has been performing well, who has the best consistency, who has got speed, compatibility, competitive nature, someone who is willing to push themselves. That’s the driver they will pick

  37. Anyone but Max Verstappen.

  38. Alan (@mightymurph11)
    27th October 2014, 21:45

    Mitch Evans

  39. Toro Rosso should hire Alonso!
    Would be very cool to watch him beat Seb in the Ferrari….:)

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