Vergne: 2012 isn't a fight for Red Bull seat
26 April 2012 – Heading into the 2012 Formula 1 season, the general belief amongst insiders and fans alike was that new Toro Rosso team-mates Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Éric Vergne were set for a year-long fight for a Red Bull Racing seat alongside Sebastian Vettel for next season. However, the newcomer does not see it that way.
The current Toro Rosso drivers have enjoyed almost identical career paths in recent years, including their respective British Formula 3 titles in 2009 and 2010 followed by the runner-up position in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2010 and 2011. For Vergne, the youngest driver in the F1 field, it has been a mixed start to the campaign.
“I think it’s quite good (but) it could have been better,” he told the official F1 website. “Of course I could use the excuse of being a rookie, but I don’t want to because I’ve made some mistakes that should not have happened to a driver, no matter what your status. I actually don’t believe so much in that rookie status thing. I am a fully-fledged driver.”
After missing out on a points finish in his first race by the narrowest of margins, Vergne finished eighth in Malaysia just a week later. Despite that, he holds the unenviable statistic of having been eliminated in Q1 qualifying for three consecutive race meetings between Rounds 2 and 4.
When quizzed over his future career prospects - possibly with Red Bull Racing - and his in-house fight with Ricciardo, the Frenchman replied:
“Some people will tell you that we are in a fight for the Red Bull cockpit, but I don’t see that right now. I am racing for Toro Rosso and I want to help make the car a points contender. I have no interest finishing in P15 ahead of him; I’d rather finish in P4 behind him, if that meant I had a quicker car. Did I just say finish behind him? No, I don’t think that I would like that (laughs)! Only the part about fighting at the front is true. Forget about the rest…”
Vergne celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.