Vergne not worried about Toro Rosso seat

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Jean-Eric Vergne is not concerned about his future with Toro Rosso despite a poor start to the 2014 Formula 1 season.

Since joining the team at the beginning of 2012, Vergne has enjoyed some success, with a best result of sixth at last year’s Canadian Grand Prix. However, he lost out to former teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the race to claim Mark Webber’s vacant seat at Red Bull, and is now coming under pressure from junior driver Carlos Sainz Jr. for the seat at Toro Rosso.

Nevertheless, the Frenchman remains upbeat, and does not think his difficult start to the year has jeopardized his career.

“Well, if you’ve seen the races you’ll understand,” he told the official Formula 1 website. “From six races there were four that I didn’t finish. Take Monaco two weeks ago: I was in P5 before the drive-though penalty and before the exhaust blew up. So yes, we definitely should have many more points scored than what we have in reality.

“It’s annoying, yes, because of course you want to do well and have good results. Is it an influence on my career? No, because Franz [Tost] and all in the team know exactly where I stand and know how much I’ve improved compared to last year and that is important and really what matters.”

The purpose of Toro Rosso has always been to nurture Red Bull’s up and coming talent. Daniil Kvyat joined the team in place of Ricciardo at the beginning of the year, and has made a great start to his F1 career. With Sainz Jr. dominating the Formula Renault 3.5 series at the moment, he looks set to be the next junior in line to make the step up.

For now, though, Vergne is keeping his head down and focusing on his racing. A good result in today’s Canadian Grand Prix – which he starts from eighth on the grid – could go a long way to silencing any critics and putting an end to speculation about his future.

Danica Patrick to sign off driving career at 2018 Indy 500

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With her full-time career in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now coming to an end, following the end of the 2017 season this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Danica Patrick is embarking on a new path in 2018 with the two biggest 500-mile races in North America.

Patrick confirmed plans to participate in North America’s most marquee 500-mile races, the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, during a press conference today in Miami. A team for the Indianapolis 500 has not been determined, and her options for the Daytona 500 are limited to NASCAR teams with three or fewer full-time cars, because a four-car full-time team cannot enter a fifth for the Daytona 500.

Patrick ended her full-time career in IndyCar after 2011 to head to NASCAR. She drove 10 races in 2012 before her first full Cup season in 2013, where she won the pole for that year’s Daytona 500 and ultimately finished eighth.

Her Cup career has seen her finish between 24th and 28th in points with seven career top-10 finishes, all between sixth and 10th place. She ranks 27th heading into this week’s finale too.

It was her IndyCar career though where she first entered the national conversation after a few years of apprenticeship driving for Bobby Rahal’s Barber Dodge and Formula Atlantic teams. A fourth place finish in the 2005 Indianapolis 500 with a number of laps led launched her into the racing stratosphere and helped produce the Indianapolis 500’s biggest rating in years.

Ultimately her best finish in the ‘500 in seven starts was third place in 2009, behind Helio Castroneves and the late Dan Wheldon.

She won at Motegi, 2008, for her first and only win in IndyCar.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MAY 29: Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Team GoDaddy Dallara Honda, makes a pit stop during the IZOD IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Mile Race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 29, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

A visibly emotional Patrick announced this was the end of her full-time driving career to kick off the press conference, but switched to her future plans once she got through the opening remarks.

Patrick “never thought” she’d do the Indianapolis 500 again but when tossing around future ideas, the concept of running both Daytona and Indianapolis came up.

“I never thought I would do it. I always thought never, but I never said never. Here I am,” she said.

“Out of my mouth came, ‘What about Indy?’ That was really the first sort of idea that got me excited. Let’s do it. I called Haley (Moore, longtime PR rep). What did I just say I would do? She said, ‘Hell yes that’s a good idea.’

“I’m still surprised.”

Patrick will need to participate in the Indianapolis 500 refresher program for drivers that aren’t full-time drivers, so that will provide her a couple hours additional track time before practice opens to the full field in mid-May.

The new 2018 Dallara universal body kit comes into being this year too, and Patrick thinks she has improved as a driver over the last six seasons to be able to come back.

“(Going) 240… it’ll be no problem,” she deadpanned. “It’ll take a bit of adjusting. It’s different for sure. But I think I’m a better driver now. It’ll take a bit of acclimating. Yeah, I would like to get in a car before I get to Indy.”

Patrick said running the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 “could” occur with her same teams she last ran with full-time, Stewart-Haas Racing and Andretti Autosport, respectively. But her options remain open for both.