Jean-Éric Vergne

Well I've been talking him up a lot on other threads so I thought I'd finally give next years youngest driver(unless HRT shock us) his own thread. Jean-Eric Vergne or JEV for short. All jokes concerning journeying to the centre of the earth are indeed welcome. The third new Frenchmen on the grid and certainly the one I see as having the most potential.

Just to make us all feel old JEV didn't get into single seater racing until 2007 where at the age of 17 he raced in the French Formula Renault Campus. Not only did he race in it but he won it by a country mile finishing on the podium 10 times in 13 races. It certainly made him stand out and his was signed to the Red Bull Junior Team on the back of it. He also became a member of the French Automobile Sport Federation (FFSA) who have done a sterling job of bring thorugh French drivers of late. Basically after one years single seater racing Vergne was part of 2 organisations that were heavily pushing him towards F1. He still had to get the results though. In 2008 and 2009 he drove in the Formula Renault 2.0 competitions winning rookie of the year in 2008 and finishing close runner-up in 2009 losing out to a Spaniard of the same age named Albert Costa. Not the Tennis player apparently.

In 2010 Vergne took the big leap of moving to the British Formula 3 Championship to become one of 6 drivers for the Carlin team. The move paid off big time as he won 12 of the 30 rounds to take himself to the title. He won all 3 rounds on the same day at Spa marking himself as bit of a specialist round the old track. He was the third Red Bull Junior driver in a row to take the title following in the footsteps of Alguersauri and Ricciardo.

Continuing the Red Bull route Vergne moved into Formula Renault 3.5 for 2011 once again racing for Carlin. He'd actually took part in the final 3 rounds (6 races) for Tech 1 in 2010 where he'd took to the series amazingly quickly scoring 5 podiums one of which was a win. This form carried on into 2011 and he and his Carlin team-mate Robert Wickens pulled clear of the field eventually despite the strong challenge of Alexander Rossi and Albert Costa and the 2 took the title right down to the wire and the final race. Vergne was 2 popint behind Wickens going into the final race and the two collided on thefirst lap. Wickens retired and Vergne carried on and it looked like he was about clinch the tilte when he himself whilst lapping Fairuz Fauzy thus handing the title to Robert Wickens. Incidentally his new team-mate Danial Ricciardo took part in 12 of the 18 rounds and only managed to finish in front of Vergne 3 times.

As for Formula One experience JEV drove and F1 car for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2010 before driving the Toro Rosso at the Abu Dhabi young drivers test in 2010. He then did Friday practice sessions for Toro Rosso in 2011. At Abu Dhabi he was 0.3 seconds off the pace of Alguersauri which probably helped his eventual choice as Toro Rosso driver. What certainly helped was his 3 days in the RB7 at Abu Dhabi where he set the fastest time of anyone(by a clear margain) each day.

Whilst there has been a lot of people upset by the replacement of Buemi and Alguersauri at Toro Rosso I don't feel this should be reflected on to Jean-Eric. He has won titles, races and awards in every cateogry he's raced in and usually right from the begining. His raise to F1 has been quick but there is no doubt in my head that its deserved. Personally I think Vergne's awesome form last year and the way he conducted himself in the young drivers test gave Red Bull no choice but to take a chance on him. Since 2010 they've had Ricciardo penciled in as the next big thing and Vergne came along last year and made them doubt that so I think they couldn't put Ricciardo in without giving Vergne a shot too and its certainly going to be interesting to see what he makes of it. Theres no doubt from looking at the record for his junior career though that it can almost be viewed as Vettel-esqe - we can only see if he continues that in F1.

Jean-Eric Vergne is actually the first of a bunch of drivers who have been moving through the levels of Motor-sport together who are likely to make up a good part of the F1 grid. I personally can't wait to see Robert Wickens in an F1 car and with Alexander Rossi, James Caledo and Albert Costa all gradually making their way through too for me they are the next 'golden-age' after the last spurt of Rosberg, Kubica, Hamilton, Vettel and co. Vergne to me is at the head of that and after seeing the way he performed in the 3.5 series I'm going to stick my neck out and say he will be the guy that Red Bull chose to replace Mark Webber and in a season or two we could see him rock the boat at Red Bull and give Mr Vettel a team-mate to worry about.

So there you go - I've stuck my neck out and I'm fully prepared for you lot to hit me over the head with it when I prove to be utterly utterly wrong. Anyone else have high hopes or even low expectations?
Im really interested in seeing how well he does this year,as he'll be having Ricciardo for a teammate once again...and while he ended up ahead on points,the general consensus was that Ricciardo was certainly the quicker of the two in terms of outright pace,but JEV's racecraft was quite good(except for that one brainfade in Valencia).....lets see how well he does. His pre-F1 CV is amazing,so methinks he cant be totally useless.....
As a bit of a JEV fan I'm hoping he starts to show some of the junior formula promise this year as well. You get the feeling if he could sort his quali he could certainly get the better of Ricciardo. He certainly got the better of him in the 3.5 series.
His pace in qualifying against Ricciardo sometimes was atrocious to say the least, not sure how. But during race day they were usually equal, with Ricciardo edging it in my opinion.
Vergne reckons he could never get the tyres working in quali but reckons the new ones will help him.

Ya know I know Ricciardo did ok last year but I can't bring myself to back him. He's got poor mans Mark Webber written all over him. Vergne just seems like a bit more of an exciting driver.
Interesting to note that Vergne beat Ricciardo hands down at Monaco and Spa which are suppose to be drivers tracks. I wonder how much of an advantage that extra half season Ricciardo did was. Lets remember the days of all the tracks being in europe and the drivers from junior formula knowing them all when they come to F1 are over.

Maybe Ricciardos prior knowledge on some of the fly away tracks, in fact prior knowledge on F1 cars gave him the slight edge on a weekend and Vergne was always playing catch up. I guess we'll see.
I think JEV had a really good weekend but got very little to show for it. Looked very quick in quali but got caught out by timing and showed really good race pace putting in one of the quickest laps of race right near the end and closing in on Grosjean and Perez just a little too late. Showing some of that potential we thought he had though.
Yeah even though we didn't see much of him in the footage JEV finally managed to hook up an entire weekend! Top ten in quali and finished half a second behind Alonso in the race. Can't expect much better. Problem for JEV is that its the first time I remember him having a good Saturday and Sunday since he got into F1! Can't help but feel that he is an overall better racer than Ricciardo if he could just hit some consistancy. Hopefully this will turn a corner for him.
Most people have that view and they are probably not wrong I just remember them in the Renault World series and JEV putting Ricciardo in the shade. I just think if JEV got his head together he'd have the potential to really be up there in F1.
So JEV doesn't get in to the top 10 for a season and a half and then be does it two GP in a row. Has the boy finally got it or is he just good in the wet?
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