The race to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next season may appear to be a straight fight between Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen, but Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne believes that he is still in the running.
Vergne was originally shortlisted by Red Bull for the seat, but team principal Christian Horner stated earlier this week that the French driver was no longer a serious consideration. Furthermore, Daniel Ricciardo tested the Red Bull RB9 car at Silverstone earlier this week as an ‘open audition’, yet Vergne is still sure that he is under consideration.
Speaking to Autosport, Vergne said: “I still believe in my chances. There is of course a chance. I would love to drive for Red Bull.”
However, Vergne was quick to underline that his focus was on Toro Rosso and 2013, not next season.
“I don’t want to think about anything for next year, any chance that I could go to Red Bull Racing whatsoever. You lose focus, and you lose some energy, so I want to keep it all for this year with Toro Rosso.”
Vergne’s comments suggest that he is not giving up hope, although Horner’s suggestion of a two-horse race may leave the French driver disappointed when a decision is made. With Ricciardo’s qualifying form outclassing that of Vergne, Red Bull do seem to leaning towards the Australian driver, although his test at Silverstone earlier this week was not trouble-free following a mistake that saw him beach the car in the gravel just seven laps into the session.