Two of Autosport’s top Formula One writers have pegged Jean-Eric Vergne’s recent hot streak as the starting point for consideration at Red Bull Racing for 2014.
The news side first: Jonathan Noble reports that despite Vergne’s uptick in performance in Monaco and Canada, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner still deems it “too early to tell” on whether Vergne has entered the discussion for a promotion from Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“It is still too early to make a call on that, but we have all the information through working with those guys and following them closely,” Horner told Noble. “But it is great to see the progress they are making.”
Further analysis (only available to paid Autosport subscribers) comes from Autosport’s F1 editor Edd Straw regarding Vergne’s efforts in Monaco and Canada. Autosport’s magazine reported a week ago that Kimi Raikkonen, currently without a contract for 2014, seems the early favorite to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull assuming the Australian leaves and Lotus can’t keep the Finn on its books.
But Straw writes that if Vergne, who’s still only 23, can keep up this level and leave Daniel Ricciardo in the shadows, the Frenchman needs to be considered.
Of Canada, Straw said, “His Canadian Grand Prix weekend performance was outstanding. Had Valtteri Bottas not grabbed the headlines, it would have been Vergne who attracted rave reviews in qualifying.”
He added, in looking at Vergne on the whole, “Many both inside and outside Red Bull regard the Frenchman as having the greater potential. Promise is all well and good, but what JEV, as he is widely known, has failed to do is cut out the mistakes and deliver throughout a weekend on anything other than a sporadic basis.”
Indeed the word that could best be used to describe Vergne’s form is “erratic.” Although he has outscored Ricciardo 13 points to 7 this year, after beating him 16 to 10 last year (29 to 17 in total), in 27 races, Ricciardo has been the higher qualifier 20 times. Several times last year Vergne was the only driver outside of Caterham, Marussia and HRT that failed to make the cut out of Q1.
Now though, Vergne is starting to develop. Like his countryman Romain Grosjean, the potential for brilliance is there, but it’s just a matter of his stringing it together on a more consistent basis. If he does that, he might indeed enter that short list at Red Bull.