Jean-Eric Vergne has said that he is expecting to be more competitive in Korea following a disappointing display at the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend.
The Frenchman could only finish fourteenth in the race at Marina Bay, being the last driver to take the checkered flag on the same lap as race winner Sebastian Vettel. However, he is confident of faring far better in Korea this weekend as he looks to repeat his eighth-place finish in last year’s race.
“We’re now going to circuits that should suit the car better than Singapore,” Vergne said. “I’m confident we can be competitive in Korea, a circuit I like and which has characteristics that should work in our favor.
“I finished there in P8 last year and I made my debut there in 2011, running in Friday morning’s free practice, so it’s got a few good memories for me as well. Let’s hope we can add a few more next week.”
Vergne has failed to replicate the form of teammate Daniel Ricciardo in recent races, with the Australian driver appearing to have been buoyed by Red Bull’s decision to hire him as Mark Webber’s replacement for 2014. However, Vergne has proven himself to be an adept wet weather driver, meaning that a rain shower in Korea this weekend could allow him to re-overtake Ricciardo in the drivers’ championship.
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 9th
Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.
Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.
Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.
Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.
Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.
Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.
Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.