Even though team owner Gene Haas said the number of potential drivers on the list for his new two-driver/car Formula One team is five, Ferrari test driver Jean-Eric Vergne told Motorsport.com that he believes the real number is three – and believes he could be on that short list.
That, despite the fact Vergne is already signed to run in the upcoming season for DS Virgin in the Formula E Series.
Vergne, 25, believes his main competition for the two seats on Haas’ F1 team are fellow Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez, and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who is believed to be at the top of Haas’ wish list.
“There are three of us, for two seats,” Vergne toldMotorsport.com. “Let’s say there is a rather good chance for me to end up with Haas.
“Then, as far as Formula E is concerned, that’s too early to talk about it. If F1 comes, there will be two clashes. It’s way too early to say how that will go. I hope to have that kind of problem to sort out, that would be a good one to have.
“But today, I am focused on Formula E, and very much as well on my work with Ferrari, which of course pays off to land in the Haas team.”
The French native believes his affiliation with Ferrari and his former ties with Toro Rosso put him high on Haas’ list – even though the team owner has not indicated who is a favorite at this point.
“I think this is an advantage,” he said. “Also, because I have worked with a very big team at Red Bull, at a time they were winning absolutely everything. I was a reserve driver and a simulator driver. I learned a huge lot with them.
“Then came three years with Toro Rosso, where I proved a lot behind the steering wheel. I can’t ignore my performances compared to [Daniel] Ricciardo: I beat him in year one. Year two, it was really tight, and today he wins Grands Prix.
“At Ferrari, I keep learning about a new philosophy, in the biggest team of all time. That’s a new work philosophy and I keep on learning a lot about the car’s technicalities.
“Of course, that plays an important role when it comes to Haas. Getting out of the F1 grid but staying in such a team as Ferrari and working all weekends on the simulator – knowing all the set-up changes, everything that goes on and following it first hand from the factory … plus I’m racing [in Formula E] – that sure doesn’t take anything away.”