Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Circuit of the Americas, 2014

Vergne says he won’t drive for Toro Rosso in 2015

2015 F1 season

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Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, Circuit of the Americas, 2014Jean-Eric Vergne has ruled himself out of remaining in Formula One with Toro Rosso in 2015.

Vergne has spent the last three seasons driving for the team but was due to be replaced by Max Verstappen at the end of this season.

Daniil Kvyat’s subsequent promotion to Red Bull from the second Toro Rosso seat opened up the possibility for Vergne to remain at the team. However following today’s test in Abu Dhabi he states he will not drive for them next year.

“Despite a good season and 22 points, I’ll not drive any more for Toro Rosso in 2015,” he wrote on Twitter. “Thanks for those years. Let’s go for another big challenge.”

Red Bull development driver Carlos Sainz Jnr, who won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship this year, drove for the team in yesterday’s test. Alex Lynn, who won the GP3 championship last week and is another of Red Bull’s young talents, tested for Lotus today. Both have been linked with the vacant Toro Rosso seat.

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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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65 comments on “Vergne says he won’t drive for Toro Rosso in 2015”

  1. I’m interested to see where he might end up; I certainly can’t see any F1 race seats he could take unless something rather dramatic happens.

    Personally I would have promoted him to Red Bull when Vettel left as he’s proved over 3 years that he can consistently do a solid if unspectacular job. Kvyat, while obviously quick, could maybe have done with another year in the Toro Rosso. But that’s just my opinion!

    I’ve heard mentioned that JEV could turn up with a Williams test driver role; potentially replacing Massa in 2016. I can’t help but feel that he’s the kind of guy who could vanish for a year with the best intentions to come back and never yet return. A shame as I like watching him drive.

    1. He will be a reserve driver for Williams since Felipe Nasr is going to Sauber

    2. @ben-n I agree with you. In that case, if JEV proved quick, great. If not, or if Kvyat proved super impressive, he would be replaced.

      @milleniumbug I think that this is his best move, as long as he can do some other racing in the meantime.

    3. Why do you think Massa will be replaced in 2016? Common guys stop crying on Massa..Ferrari removed Massa and it completely got white washed..Williams don’t want to be in the same line.

      1. why shouldnt massa be replaced? he is an unspectacular driver! vergne would have done better in that williams than massa (just mho)…
        massa is good at whining…

        1. @ GB – If Vergne is really good..why he was not considered by both Red Bull and Toro Rosso?

    4. @ben-n It’s a good place for him.. Massa only has a few years left. His upturn in form has come at the right time, as Nasr was getting impatient to join F1.

      But, Williams doing well now, also means they can afford to hire Vergne, as a good backup for Bottas (if Wolff moves him to Mercedes, even if unlikely), or for when Massa calls time. I can still see Nasr coming back, after a year or two of experience, if he does well, to sure up the Brazilian sponsorships.

  2. Off to the WEC then. There is a seat available in an Audi, and Porsche have confirmed that they are running a third car for Le Mans and Spa.

    1. FlyingLobster27
      26th November 2014, 15:12

      How about Nissan? There are supposed to be three of those next year too…

      1. Yeah Nissan will be an interesting one…they havent had any profile names associated with their entry yet..apart for Satoshi Motoyama and Jan Mardenborough, has anybody heard of anyone else? I doubt it will be JB, with his past experience with Honda, I dont know if Nissan will go for him, but you never know.

    2. I think JB will take it

  3. “The best driver not to get promoted to Red Bull” means he’s better than Buemi, Alguersuari, Liuzzi etc. but, if we trust Marko, or Tost, or whoever said that, worse than Vettel and Ricciardo. I guess most of the field is worse than Vettel and Ricciardo, so I see no reason for Vergne to land a seat somewhere else. I certainly hope he finds one!

  4. I’d like to see him driving for Haas once they’re on the grid. Sutil’s currently rumored to be in talks with them, but JEV would surely do a better job.

    1. @artanonim Sutil is perfect for them… he can bring money, experience, and probably help them set up. For the other seat, they can take a promising young driver, or more cash to get the team running, I hear Gutierrez just missed out at Sauber.. and Van der Garde as third driver.. Sauber rejects to Haas! Rossi again as 2nd reserve… Daly for straight line tests.. but one driver who could really help them would be Heikki Kovalainen, or Kamui Kobayashi.

    2. Please god not Sutil at Haas! I would waaaay rather have JEV

    3. OH! God no. Please don’t tell me Sutil will still manage to hang around. Go away already.
      The guy is tall, heavy and was an average driver even before he started getting older. Also plenty say his feedback isn’t that great at all and don’t get me started on his bad reputation. Haas should be a fool to get him.

      Kobayashi should take the experience driver position(time to sell some tools in Japan, not bad for starting a little business there) and the other should go to some pay driver with some potential(since i assume even Haas doesn’t want to throw every last dollar in his bank account for his F1 team).
      Then if he had any brains he will give a call to some experience guy for test driver like the one that left Mclaren(i hear his a merc guy though so i don’t know how that will go with Haas having Ferrari engines) and the third driver seat to some talented rookie that can bring at least some small amount of cash(2-3million at least).

  5. I susoect he is off to WEC with either Audi or Nissan.

  6. Red Bull is all about marketing and the choice to promote Kvyat and not Vergne is 95% marketing.

    It will be a shame if Vergne is not in F1 next year because he’s more talented than 2/3 of the grid. Why are Williams keeping Massa who manages to finish behind a McLaren in the WDC?? If they want to win races they need a better driver than him, Vergne in a Williams would be great.

    1. That’s harsh on Kvyat. The guy was just as fast (abeilt unconsistent) than JEV in his very first season. He got the car 7th in qualy at Abu Dhabi… and where was JEV? And in Russia, a track neither of them knew before, Danil outqualified JEV by 0.8 secs…

      He’s shown a lot of potential and I’m sure he’ll be a beast next year in the Red Bull together with Ricciardo.

      1. Agreed. He’ll make Ricciardo work really hard, and if the Bulls improve, they’ll give Mercedes hell.

      2. @fer-no65 you are wrong. It’s a FACT that JEV has 22 points and Kvyat 8 points. He will clearly be a number 2 driver for Red Bull, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I think we’ve all seen this year that having two good drivers is not the best idea (HAM and ROS).

        1. @francorchamps17 how come having 2 good drivers isn’t a good idea? it’s a great idea… 2 great drivers on the same car is fantastic to see.

          Points don’t always tell the whole story. The fact is Kvyat outqualified JEV more times than JEV did, and yes, his races were shaky, but he showed incredible speed.

          1. @fer-no65 it’s only fantastic for the show. If you want to win races and titles it’s not the best idea. A few examples: Spa 2014, the 2007 championship, Schum titles with Ferrari , Vettel titles with RB.

          2. @fer-no65 “his races were shaky, but he showed incredible speed.”

            There’s no point being fast or showing speed if you don’t score points. That’s how Formula 1 works: the only thing that matters is how many points you score.

          3. @francorchamps17 I despise teams that chose a second rate driver for their second car. Kimi and Massa worked well together and they both were championship material. So did Webber and Vettel in 2010. And Hamilton and Button, even if they didn’t score a single championship.

            If it was all about points, the Ricciardo shouldn’t have been promoted last season. Long term prospects are also put on table. Kvyat has a lot more potential than JEV.

            Wait until 2015 and you’ll see

          4. @fer-no65 Have to agree with your last paragraph! Marko always looks for the upside!

        2. Having good drivers brought Mercedes a very convincing Constructors championship and driver championship, and letting them race has surely done a huge amount for Mercedes for Marketing / visibility. I do not see any issues they should be worried about there @francorchamps

    2. Having in mind that Massa has been the only Williams driver to actually have a chance to win a race (Montreal, where he got stuck in the Pérez train, and Abu Dhabi where he ultimately wasn’t fast enough, and Hamilton probably had a bit of margin) and he’s actually outscored Bottas since Monza by 15 points (and I haven’t checked but he might be the third driver with most points since then, behind Hamilton and Rosberg) I think blaming Williams for keeping him is a bit harsh.

      He’s had some rotten luck this season. Taken out in T1 in Melbourne (Caterham awesome brakes) and Germany (Crash-Magnetussen), got collected by Kimi Räikkönen’s YOLO moment at Silverstone, had a “great” pitstop at China, then Hamilton’s tyre carcass got stuck in his car in Belgium, and in Russia he had a fuel flow issue during qualifying that left him at the back of the field, and then tried to complete the whole race in soft tyres.

      Sure, he had some self-inflicted failures (he didn’t make his strategy work in Spain, he could have probably avoided the crash in Canada, and your mileage may vary in regards to the Germany crash) but he’s lost a fair amount of points from issues out of his control. His championship position and points don’t do justice to the pace he’s shown during this season.

      As for Vergne, I think he’s a “mediocre” driver in Formula One. Don’t get me wrong, he’s good, but he’s not championship material. He’s consistant, but he lacks that edge. Ricciardo outqualified him 15-5 in 2012 and 2013, and he’s been outqualified again by Kvyat 12-7 in 2014. You might argue that qualifying isn’t that important, but Vergne hasn’t shown any stellar racecraft either. He only beat Kvyat because he had some rookie mistakes. I’d argue that the horrible driver Massa is actually a better driver than Vergne.

      And on Kvyat, he has done great for his first year, specially in a car that has failed too many times, leaving him without crucial seat time (really important for a rookie who hasn’t even had a testing role). From people who have watched him racing in the lower categories, he’s really talented, and he has shown a bit of that this year. Give him a bit of experience, and I think he can give Ricciardo a run for his money. I expect him to make mistakes next year, but by the end of the season he should be at least on pace with Ricciardo.

      1. Very very accurate and fair comment! (much better than some journalists’s)
        Certainly,RIC is a very good driver. However, why he surprised eveyone? Because his race pace/racecraft was not really impressive in his first two and a half years.

    3. That’s too harsh on Felipe!
      After GermanyGP, only 3 drivers ourscore Massa (HAM ROS RIC);
      After BelgiumGP, only HAM(193) and ROS(97) ourscore Massa(94),clearly the best of the rest!
      His first half of this season was dominated by team errors and bad luck.(Few were his own errors).if you review his races, I think you will agree on this.
      Anyaway, Felipe would be ahead of Jenson in the WDC

  7. That is just awfully sad.

    He was nearly as good as a Ricciardo and a Kvyat (he even scored more points). He surely deserves a grid spot a lot lot more than the money bags of the Ericssons, Nasrs and Maldonados.

    It’s just very sad.

    Wish him all the best.

  8. From 3 Frenchmen to 1 in the space of a year. Outch!
    #ForzaJules

    1. Ditto Englishmen it would seem.

    2. grosjean is actually swiss , but races as french as he gets no swiss support
      so none really
      and kvyat ? a bit wild in his first year but got what you can’t learn …he is quick
      a bit like grosjean really !

  9. Hm, really expected him to stay. Shoving in a rookie alongside their supposed future Senna/Schumacher/Super-Fangio/whatever they call him doesn’t seem entirely wise and a lot of people in the team even said as much.

    Sad to see him go.

  10. A few pieces of relevant data. In three years at Toro Rosso Vergne was consistently out-qualified by his team mates, losing out 42-16 in the end.

    However he out-scored them by 51-38. Contrary to my assumption, his reliability rate wasn’t significantly worse: nine non-classifications due to mechanical failure versus eight.

    Based on pure performance alone I don’t think it’s a great surprise he’s been dropped, but I’m sure some in the team would have wanted to keep an old hand in the team to help Verstappen – not least Verstappen himself, who’s already said as much, and perhaps Tost as well.

    1. “Based on pure performance alone I don’t think it’s a great surprise he’s been dropped, ”
      “However he out-scored them by 51-38”
      I cant see how these two statements match. If he out scored his team mates, then his performance is quite good, no?

      1. @sohebbasharat Points is not the only index of performance, and not always a good one. Particularly if you’re driving a car like a Toro Rosso which is only going to get into the lower reaches of the points on its best days. In which case how many points its drivers score tends be strongly affected by whether other drivers under-perform or suffer misfortune.

        1. @keithcollantine Well, points may not be the ONLY index of performance. But it is a pretty good index. Perhaps the best index, that is why the champion is the one who scores the most points in a season. And although i agree that many times there are some fluke results but over the course of three years, they get leveled out.
          That is a pretty solid performance, IMHO

          1. @sohebbasharat

            I agree that many times there are some fluke results but over the course of three years, they get levelled out.

            If the F1 season were a few hundred races long I’d probably agree with you. But not when we’re talking about up 20-odd cars in only up to 20 races per year. Your reasoning is an example of misapplying the law of averages (PDF link).

          2. @keithcollantine
            well,if we dont accept finishing ahead in three consecutive seasons as proof of his ability and not mere chance, then we are left off with our subjective impressions. because finishing ahead in three years can be the only objective measure that i can think of. if you have any other objective measure, do share with me.

          3. @sohebbasharat

            First of all, he didn’t finish ahead of his team mate in each of the last three season in the points standings.

            Secondly, of course there are other objective measures besides how many points a driver has scored. I’ve already explained the shortcomings of relying on the points totals in this case (which you don’t seem to have acknowledged), and explored the problems with points systems in much greater detail not long ago.

            Comparing which driver qualified ahead most would be one such objective measure. Another would be comparing which driver finished ahead most. In which case it’s worth noting that Vergne finished behind Ricciardo more often than not in 2012 and 2013.

            And of course all this data can be qualified further by looking at the circumstances of their seasons – who had bits of misfortune which don’t appear in the raw data, whose qualifying laps were extra-special, that sort of thing. That’s what I try to do when I compile the end-of-season driver rankings, and looking back I see I put Ricciardo ahead of Vergne both years (though it was close in 2012):

            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/12/13/2013-f1-season-driver-rankings-part-one-22-17/
            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/12/15/2013-f1-season-driver-rankings-part-three-10-6/
            http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2012/12/10/2012-f1-driver-rankings-part-2511/

            I think I’ve given this subject as much attention as it deserves now. However I would point out that not only can we find objective measures of a drivers’ besides their points totals – indeed, measures that may be superior in some respects – but Red Bull have access to far more and richer performance data than we do.

          4. @keithcollantine
            thank you very much for your detailed information

          5. @sohebbasharat You’re welcome!

    2. “Contrary to my assumption, his reliability rate wasn’t significantly worse: nine non-classifications due to mechanical failure versus eight.”
      That’s all his 3 seasons together? Kvyat had a lot of mechanical problems this year, but if my memory is good, Vergne had a lot more technical problems in his first two years than Ricciardo.

      1. @paeschli Four to three non-classifications due to technical failures by my count. But as I was saying yesterday this can be quite subjective. You can find all the data here:

        F1 statistics

      2. The effect changes depending on what position you’re in/how competitive the car is too. I think Vergne got a reputation for bad luck because his car failed many times when he was in a good position (I don’t have the stats to back this up, as you mentioned above @keithcollantine just a gut feeling).

        I’m not sure about Vergne, generally he performs like Button, keeps quiet and gets most of what the car can deliver. Since his seat has been under pressure he’s been forced to be more assertive though and, while exciting to watch, has been a bit too aggressive wheel-to-wheel for my taste.

        1. @george I agree.. but I think Red Bull look to front run, not pass from behind. Thus, they take the fast qualifiers (Ricciardo, Kvyat) over those who gain in the race (Alguersuari, Vergne).

          I also notice that the last two have been fired, while Buemi and even Felix da Costa (who are more of the former type) have been retained for sim work. @keithcollantine

  11. On his post race Notebook at Abu Dhabi, Ted Kravitz said there was some talk in the paddock that Vergne was going to Williams as Test/Reserve driver in place of Felipe Nasr.

  12. Personally I’m glad that Vergne isn’t being kept on for another season with the sole purpose of mentoring Verstappen only to receive the inevitable sack a year later. Having fallen out of favour with Marko his prospects of progressing to the A-Team were nil, so his career prospects will be better if he wrangles an LMP factory drive which he can dovetail with Williams reserve appearances.

    Also there is the conveyor belt culture, with JEV perhaps not being as impressive as Kvyat or Ricciardo and therefore the search for a better talent must continue. It will be a pleasure to have Sainz on the grid next year, he is as ready for F1 as he’s ever going to be.

    1. Ready for F1, yes, but he isn’t fast enough. Lynn and Gasly have been more impressive last year.

      1. @paeschli True, but I think both were cautious in traffic. Gasly will learn overtaking in GP2, while Lynn will step up to more powerful cars in FR3.5. Can you see any of these drivers moving up to Toro Rosso in a few years, @countrygent? It would take a movement of the 4 seats ahead of them, or one being dropped for poor performance (Sainz or Verstappen)?

        But Sainz’s seat at Toro Rosso might also depend on CEPSA staying on the rear wing.. Personally, I could see Total replacing them and getting Gasly in the car when ready.

  13. In any other team I would have bemoaned Vergne’s departure, but as Toro Rosso is specifically meant for young talents, it does not surprise me that Vergne has to move on. He has done well (and frankly, I rated him higher than Ricciardo during their time at Toro Rosso) and has shown what he’s got, but I don’t know if it’ll be enough for a non-paying seat somewhere.

    I’d like to see him at Williams; he’s a pretty calm guy and would fit well within Williams, I think.

    That being said, I think Toro Rosso are going to have a hard time to find a proper team mate for Verstappen. Sainz has the (relative) experience, but I’m personally not too convinced of his natural speed. Meanwhile Lynn and Gasly strike me as fast, but perhaps lack the experience. I rate Verstappen very highly, but I think he’ll run into trouble in traffic next year, Toro Rosso surely doesn’t want 2 2012-versions of Grosjean.

    1. @npf1 Sainz definitely has the speed, the problem is that since his yips he has lacked consistency. He won many races in FR3.5 last year, but the concern comes from those races where he is nowhere near the front. If he has some of those in F1, he might look bad against Verstappen, who is a little more consistent, if very aggressive (leading to traffic trouble as you suggest).

  14. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    26th November 2014, 21:39

    It kind of annoys me that Vergne got 3 years and Alguersuari didn’t, Alguersauri had so much potential in a much worse Toro Rosso.

  15. I’m not glad to this…

  16. Ricciardo only outperformed Vergne a little but it give huge diffrence

    1. actually first year Vergne got Riccardo, so Vergne stay, second yr he lost too Ric. So winner is promoted to redbull, and Vergne get one more go but this yr Kyviat did as good as third yr driver so obviously Vergne peak been reached. No Brainer. Which driver is beyond a third yr without delivering at least a podium ?

      1. I’m assuming what @McL88ASAP was eluding to was the fact that, it’s amazing how one decision made his career. If he goes to Red Bull and Ricciardo stays at Toro Rosso, who’s to say it’s not Ricciardo walking out the door right now, and Vergne who is leading Red Bull in 2015.

        In the end we will never know, but I think @McL88ASAP has a good point in that the decision by Red Bull has made a huge difference in their careers.

        1. And by McL88ASAP, I clearly meant @deongunner ! LOL

        2. @sward28 no problem, and thanks for explaining my comment because my english is quite poor

        3. I know exactly what you mean. Jerry Seinfeld used to have a joke about the 100-meter dash in the Olympics. Something like, “The difference between 1st and second place is two-hundredths of a second. It’s nothing. First place: greatest guy who ever lived. Second place: never heard of him.”

          I often thought of that this year with Vergne and Ricciardo and how their futures forked at the end of 2013. Ricciardo could someday be a World Champion, and Verge has a lot of uncertainty ahead.

      2. Nico Hülkenberg?

        To be honest, it would be unfair to ask a podium from Vergne with the PoS car he’s been driving since 2012. Not even Alonso or Hamilton could pull a podium with that kind of car.

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