Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost has given his support to Jean-Eric Vergne as the Frenchman fights for his place in Formula 1.
Vergne joined the Red Bull junior team back in 2012, but missed out on a promotion to the senior outfit when teammate Daniel Ricciardo got the nod. In 2014, he has struggled to make much of an impact, and is now coming under pressure from Formula Renault 3.5 driver Carlos Sainz Jr. for the seat at Faenza.
Speaking to Autosport, Tost admitted that Vergne did need a big result to answer his critics, but praised the Frenchman for coming a long way since last season.
“He made a lot of progress during the winter months so he is much more stable this year,” he said. “He is doing a good job.
“Unfortunately he has had a lot of reliability issues with his car, but from the driving point of view he is fast, skilled, and I just hope he gets a really good result.”
Vergne has not finished any higher than eighth on track so far this season, but has shown signs of pace. In Monaco, he was running as high as sixth, and even sat second in Hungary before dropping back down the order.
“Monaco would have been the kick to give him self-confidence to score a lot of points, and then everything becomes much easier,” Tost said. “You need the results because this is the confirmation.”
Vergne’s future at Toro Rosso will be just one part of the silly season spectacular that Formula 1 is set to throw up in 2014, and so long as Sainz continues to dominate his championship, the Spaniard will be the favorite to race alongside Daniil Kvyat next season.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.