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.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

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For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “