F1 2014 Driver Review: Jean-Eric Vergne


Jean-Eric Vergne

Team: Scuderia Toro Rosso
Car No.: 25
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 22
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 13th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Like many before him, Jean-Eric Vergne fell victim of the cut-throat nature of the Red Bull junior programme in 2014, losing his seat after three seasons with Toro Rosso that have seen him do little wrong.

The Frenchman was overlooked for the seat at Red Bull last season, and lost out again this year to rookie teammate Daniil Kvyat despite scoring almost three times as many points. The Russian’s promotion did free up a space at Toro Rosso once again, only for the team to choose Carlos Sainz Jr. despite Vergne being the preferred choice for Max Verstappen and, rumor has it, team principal Franz Tost.

It’s a shame to see JEV go, given that he hasn’t been able to show his true ability. In 2014, reliability did his record little help in what has undoubtedly been his best season for the team. In Singapore, his charge to sixth was sensational, proving that he has what it takes to cut it with the very best.

A test role may beckon for Vergne, but if he can’t get a full-time race seat, perhaps another series such as IndyCar or WEC would be better.

Of all of the Red Bull juniors to be jilted, Vergne has arguably done more than anyone to warrant another season.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Timing is everything in the Red Bull system, and at the time Jean-Eric Vergne enjoyed his best season yet in three with Scuderia Toro Rosso, came the time that time has been called – temporarily, anyway – on his F1 racing career.

The Frenchman improved his qualifying for a second straight season and was unlucky to miss out on more points than the 22 he managed to score due to myriad of mechanical maladies. Even so, he was still clear of rookie teammate Daniil Kvyat, but the Russian’s ceiling appeared higher to the higher-ups at Red Bull.

Vergne’s now entered the same career conundrum that has befallen names like Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Vitantonio Liuzzi at STR. He’s a capable F1 driver and merits a place on the grid, but at 24 – a full, and this seems hard to believe, seven years older than 2015 debutante Max Verstappen – he doesn’t appear to be edgy or young enough to fit into the Red Bull empire going forward. A reserve role wouldn’t do justice to his talent and I’d rather see him attempt to go forward in a top-line sports car or IndyCar ride, where he could make a greater impression.

Robert Wickens shares more positive strides toward recovery in new video

Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
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Robert Wickens has made massive steps since sustaining a spinal cord injury in an Aug. 19, 2018 crash at Pocono Raceway.

Since the accident, Wickens publicly has shared his recovery, often uploading videos of his physical rehabilitation on Twitter.

In his most recent update on Wednesday, Wickens shared a video of him walking on a treadmill. Fellow NTT IndyCar Series competitor Tony Kannan, who competes in triathlons during his spare time, also was visible running on the treadmill behind Wickens.

“When I am @TonyKannan [sic] age, I hope to run as fast as him…” Wickens tweeted. “Today was a good day!”

Wickens, who will turn 31 on March 13, first made his return to the IndyCar paddock in last year’s season opener in St. Petersburg. Since then, he’s made a return to the driver’s seat, piloting a specialized Acura NSX prior to the start of last year’s IndyCar race in his hometown of Toronto.

In September, Wickens fulfilled a vow to his wife Karli, by standing with her during their wedding. The new husband and wife also danced together during their reception.

Should Wickens fully recover to resume racing, Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt has stated that the team’s No. 6 entry will be available for him to drive. Wickens continues to remain as a “driver coach and consultant” for the team.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter