With just one point from the opening two rounds of the 2013 Formula 1 season, Scuderia Toro Rosso hasn’t yet jumped to the head of the midfield.
It’s that motivation, rather than simply beating teammate Daniel Ricciardo, that is fueling STR sophomore Jean-Eric Vergne.
“The [intra-team] fight isn’t enough for me; I want better performances,” Vergne told Autosport. “[In Australia] I was in front of Daniel after qualifying, but I was really pissed off and sad that I didn’t make it through into Q3.”
The Frenchman scored more points than Ricciardo a year ago but was woefully outperformed in qualifying, 16-4 in 20 races. The talk since the two were paired from the start of 2012 has been of the intra-team battle to see who could be worthy of a seat at Red Bull if Mark Webber departs.
In the wake of the Malaysian Grand Prix Red Bull team orders controversy, the added pressure to qualify higher up the grid has intensified down for Red Bull’s junior squad.
“If we have the worst car though and always finish 17th or 18th every weekend I will not be happy at all,” added Vergne.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.