Could Vergne replace Webber?

Mat Coch Roar Guru

By Mat Coch, Mat Coch is a Roar Guru

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    News that Jean-Eric Vergne is being considered as a possible replacement for Mark Webber should come as no surprise.

    The Frenchman starred in the junior formulae, winning the British Formula Three championship in 2010 and finishing runner up to Robert Wickens in Formula Renault 3.5 the following year.

    As a Red Bull junior who showed good potential he was promoted to the Toro Rosso Formula One team in 2011.

    Toro Rosso exists as a sort of finishing school for Red Bull’s youth programme; those that pass with honours graduate to the senior Red Bull team like Sebastian Vettel, while those who do not are discarded like yesterday’s news.

    Vergne was handed the seat at Toro Rosso because Red Bull’s driver advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, believes he has the potential to race for the Austrian squad’s senior team.

    If Marko did not believe that Vergne would either have never reached Formula One, like Brendan Hartley, or have been quickly dispensed with like Jaime Alguersuari.

    The more easily led publications are now joining the dots and making a headline out of the fact Vergne could be a replacement for Webber, citing the twenty-three year olds excellent drive to sixth place in Canada was impressive.

    He comprehensively outperformed teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who could matter no better than fifteenth, at an important time of year.

    Approaching mid-season teams are now beginning to look at their driver line-ups for 2014. Mark Webber has been on a rolling one year deal for most of his Formula One career, but while he is still fast he is perhaps not at the level he was at in 2010.

    Furthermore after the shenanigans of the Malaysian Grand Prix the veteran could well turn his back on Formula One altogether.

    That would create an opening into which presumably the Red Bull management team, i.e. Dr Helmut Marko, would want to slot one of his blossoming youngsters.

    That is why talk of Jean-Eric Vergne in relation to Webber’s seat should come as no surprise, just as talk of one Australian replacing another shouldn’t, for it is the very reason both have jobs.

    Roarers, what do you think?

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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • June 12th 2013 @ 9:17am
      Fivehole said | June 12th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      This was a great drive from Vergne, but I believe Ricciardo’s 7th in China was just as good, and it included a long pit for a nose change. Vergne got points in Monaco too, but Ricciardo was taken out there by Grosjean. I think Toro Rosso results are fairly even, with Vergne in the better current form. Too early to call.

    • Editor

      June 12th 2013 @ 9:19am
      Tristan Rayner said | June 12th 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      A shame for Ricciardo struggling in Canada, but it’s not open and shut for either of the two just yet. He’ll be back!

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2013 @ 11:09am
        Mat Coch said | June 12th 2013 @ 11:09am | ! Report

        The fear is that one will succeed and the others Formula One career will likely end. Given the quality of drivers who cannot get drives I’ve no faith that, should Toro Rosso let either of them go, someone else will pick them up.

        Remember Christian Klien? He turned 30 in February. His F1 career came and went by the time he was 25.

    • Roar Guru

      June 12th 2013 @ 4:26pm
      Mark Young said | June 12th 2013 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

      Hi Mat
      Have you noticed that Vergne has struggled in qualifying for his entire time in F1, but fortuitously amended this weakness just in time to get a contract with Red Bull!
      It is all about timing.

      I hope it isn’t all over but I get the feeling that if Dan can’t give Jean-Eric a hiding at Silverstone next weekend, it will be all over

    • June 12th 2013 @ 4:49pm
      Frankie Hughes said | June 12th 2013 @ 4:49pm | ! Report

      Jean-Eric Vergne is a fantastic driver.

      Has been a little unlucky in that past.

      Ricciardo, like Webber, talks a good game. But in the end talking is cheap.

      • Roar Guru

        June 12th 2013 @ 5:48pm
        Mat Coch said | June 12th 2013 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

        Let’s put the three contenders for the second Red Bull seat up against one another;

        Mark Webber,
        Daniel Ricciardo,
        Jean-Eric Vergne

        There is no doubt at the moment Webber looks the best fit. He’s experienced and accomplished and a solid second driver.

        Are either Vergne or Ricciardo any better? At this stage, probably not. Could they be any better? Hard to say.

        Vergne looks the man with more untapped ability, and perhaps a couple of seasons alongside Vettel is what is needed to draw that out.

        • June 12th 2013 @ 7:30pm
          Frankie Hughes said | June 12th 2013 @ 7:30pm | ! Report

          Is the STR a few comparison to the RBR car? No.

          Considering Renault are RBRs engine supplier, Vergne(Frenchman) will get Webber’s seat.

    • June 12th 2013 @ 7:12pm
      William said | June 12th 2013 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

      Antonio Felix Da Costa is going to replace Dan or Jean-Eric next year but I hope Dan gets a drive for the Red Bull. Massa is staying at Ferrari, Seb is at RB to 2015. Grosjean is gone but I hope Esteban Guiterrez is replaced by Robin Frijns

      • June 12th 2013 @ 7:26pm
        Frankie Hughes said | June 12th 2013 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

        Nico Hulkenburg has a Ferrari contract for 2014-16

        Looking a Massa current form, there’s no chance that Ferrari would retain him.

        Additionally Ferrari paid an multi million release clause to get Hulkenburg out of his Force India contract to get him into the Ferrari powered Sauber.

        • Roar Guru

          June 12th 2013 @ 9:13pm
          Mat Coch said | June 12th 2013 @ 9:13pm | ! Report

          I’d be interested to hear your source re Ferrari/Hulkenberg.

          To the best of my knowledge he was only on a one year deal at Force India so Ferrari would have had to spend nothing.

          • June 13th 2013 @ 2:23am
            Frankie Hughes said | June 13th 2013 @ 2:23am | ! Report

            After Force India signed Nico Hulkenburg, it was a 4 year deal.

            He was Force India’s test driver in 2011. Then his 3 year race contract ran from 2012-14.

            But he had a clause in his contract that if a bigger team came in for him, they could buy him out of his Force India contract.

            Hence why Mallya said he was sad Hulkenburg leaving, but understood his position.

            • Roar Guru

              June 13th 2013 @ 8:47am
              Mat Coch said | June 13th 2013 @ 8:47am | ! Report

              That contradicts comments made by Mallya at the time;

              “I offered an extension to both drivers. I hear from the media that Nico has signed with Sauber. Well, if he has then good luck to him.”

              Having had a look around at media releases and reports from the time I can’t see any reference to a 4-year deal.

              • June 13th 2013 @ 10:04am
                Frankie Hughes said | June 13th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

                As you have alluded to, Mallya’s comments.

                The additional 2 years was agreed on top of the 2011 test role and 2012 full race seat.

                Ferrari paid Mallya a 7 figure sum.

                With Hulkenburg signing a Ferrari contract for 2014.

      • June 12th 2013 @ 7:29pm
        Frankie Hughes said | June 12th 2013 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

        Grosjean’s agent is the team boss of Lotus.

        Grosjean’s main financial backer, Total, are who are keeping Lotus’ budget competitive.

        Grosjean isn’t going anyway.

        If he was he’d have been replaced after the Monaco accident, as Lotus have the reigning GO2 champion on their books

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