Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne is pleased with his start to the season, and he is keen on taking this good form into the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
The Frenchman spoke of the need for a “big push” in his blog on the Toro Rosso website.
“It’s not long now until we’re back in F1 action in Spain, where I’ll be hoping for a big push in this European phase of the season,” he said.
“Looking back over the first four races I would say that while it hasn’t been fantastic there are positive signs. We have a strong team of good people and they are working well together.
“The car is essentially competitive too, which was shown with my result in Malaysia and Dan’s points in China.”
Vergne finished in P10 in Malaysia, whilst teammate Daniel Ricciardo recorded his best ever result in F1 after finishing 7th at the Chinese Grand Prix. However, the team then endured a disastrous weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Ricciardo not scoring and Vergne retiring from the race, although the Frenchman considers this to have been an anomaly.
“We had a pretty poor outing in Bahrain but I think this was an aberration. Daniel’s car was the slowest on track in the race and that’s just not right, as he is definitely not slow. Clearly there was a problem elsewhere.
“You have to think about it like this: a car does not go from finishing seventh in a race to being last in the space of one week. The team is investigating it and I’m sure in Barcelona we won’t have problems like that.”
Toro Rosso has certainly made an encouraging start to the season, but quite whether this good form will continue in Europe remains to be seen. The added incentive for Vergne and Ricciardo is that they are both considered to be in the running for Mark Webber’s seat at Red Bull in 2014. Should they impress over the course of the season, they could find themselves partnering multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel next year.
Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States
Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.
“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”
In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.
With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.
In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.
“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.
“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”
Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.
“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said. “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”
Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.
“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.
“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”
Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.