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Vergne helps behind the scenes at Red Bull and closes on F1 chance
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Sep 2011   |  12:02 pm GMT  |  13 comments

Jean Eric Vergne is a name that is coming up increasingly frequently in F1 circles at the moment. The Frenchman is another of the Red Bull young drivers coming into the F1 orbit and this weekend he’ll be doing a job behind the scenes for them.

Speaking to L’Equipe he revealed that this weekend he will be “in the Red Bull simulator at Milton Keynes supporting Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber for the Singapore GP.”

Teams send all the data from the track in real time back to their factory bases and after the debriefs the engineers at the factory can run simulations trying different set ups. Having a driver able to test variations in the simulator can be useful in some situations and Vergne is using the experience to get up to speed in preparation for two important F1 appointments he has coming up.

Red Bull has one of the most advanced simulators of all the F1 teams. The key to being able to make use of a driver back at base to evolve set ups is having a good tyre model, which only the leading teams have.


In the same L’Equipe article he confirms that he will be driving the Toro Rosso on Friday mornings from Korea onwards. His World Series by Renault season will end the weekend before in Barcelona, the same weekend as the Japanese Grand Prix.

He also confirmed that he will drive the Red Bull car in the Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi in November, the opportunity Daniel Ricciardo took last year.

The burning question is what Red Bull and its young driver programme director Helmut Marko plans to do with his drivers. Ricciardo, who started the season doing Fridays for Toro Rosso, is now gaining some race experience at HRT and managed to outqualify team mate Tonio Liuzzi in Monza. He might reasonably expect to take one of the Toro Rosso seats next year, but maintains that he doesn’t know what he will be doing in 2012.

Vergne meanwhile is coming into the Toro Rosso set up and also pushing for an opportunity.

Meanwhile the ownership of Toro Rosso remains a talking point. Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz says emphatically today in an interview with the Financial Times Germany that the team is not for sale, but doesn’t rule out “partnerships”. He has entered into an agreement with IPIC, the Abu Dhabi based investment company. Among other brands, IPIC owns CEPSA, the Spanish oil company which is now a Toro Rosso sponsor.

Mateschitz makes clear that he wants to continue to own the Toro Rosso team as there are many benefits not least from a political point of view, but there are suggestions in the Singapore paddock that IPIC could take a minority shareholding in the team.

Mateschitz also makes clear that Red Bull Racing will remain exactly as it is now, a wholly owned part of Red Bull company.

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13 Comments
  1. JR says:

    So now we have at least 4 candidates for just 2 seats at Toro Rosso: Alguersuari, Buemi, Ricciardo and now Vergne.

    1. paul Jennings says:

      I agree with you! but Red Bull are using Hispania to give Ricciardo race milage, that might contiune for 2012 if Red Bull contiune to find cash under the sofa!

  2. Eduan says:

    The young guys that have contracts from young age are really benefiting from these big teams. Mclaren and Lewis Hamilton were really the pioneers for this! It is great because it gives young drivers a opportunity and it provides F1 with quality drivers. More teams like Mercedes and Lotus should bring in driver initiatives lik these!

  3. goferet says:

    Looks like both Buemi & Jaime are about to get kicked out of Torro Rosso – at the same time. For that can be the only explanation why these two young guns, Riccardo & the French guy are getting up to speed.

    Riccardo has been tested by fire so far & come out smelling like roses so this leaves the French guy therefore, there’s still hope for Buemi & Jaime for if the simulator guy doesn’t make it in F1 then one of them will keep their seat (Am thinking Buemi)

  4. Rob Newman says:

    Very interesting. For me, none of the current Toro Rosso drivers have made a big impression. Also, I don’t see anything special in either of them.

    Have to compare with Vettel because he did a fantastic job when he was at Toro Rosso even beating the Red Bull pair Webber and Coulthard.

    May be it is time for a couple of new guys to show their potential.

  5. Tom in adelaide says:

    Good stuff – more talented youngsters and less brazilian journeymen please.

  6. Werewolf says:

    With the experienced Raikkonen (supposedly), Heidfeld and Kubica looking to return, Hulkenberg and Grosjean banging on the door for second opportunities and Williams possibly opting for a second paying (or at least heavily sponsored) driver, F1 is harder to enter than ever at the moment.

    Some of the above are likely to be disappointed but so too could Barrichello, Sutil, Alguersari, Buemi and/or Senna. Fascinating times.

    I’ve left out HRT and Virgin from any thinking because they really do need to up their game before any vacancies are meaningful.

  7. Ram says:

    to many driver to little teams …. i think barrichello, trulli , schumi had their time … they need to give way …. they are pushing 40 and holding up a train of exciting youngsters …

  8. Fil says:

    Could we see a major shakeup at STR in 2012, with Ricciardo & Vergne replacing both current drivers?

    Driver stability has not been synonymous with STR, so a complete driver overhaul is seemingly well overdue.

    For most of this season, it’s felt like the time is up for at least one current STR driver, with Ricciardo warming up for a 2012 drive there.

    Now with Vergne getting much more cosy with the organisation, he could just snipe the other seat too.

  9. JEVthebest says:

    I hope Vergne wins the title in world series fist, then may be he could get into F1. But I really think that he is superior to Ricciardo, we saw it this year, and if you look at his statistics in british F3, there nowhere from Vergne ones.

  10. paul Jennings says:

    I wonder how long Red Bull will use Hispania for giving their drivers some race experience? it’s good for the youngsters but then we could get a grid full of Red Bull backed drivers! imagine Toro Rosso helping Hispania in other ways- not just some cash found under the sofa. Vergne hasn’t had much F1 milage this year and will get the chance to drive in the young drivers event in Abu Dhabi and yes if he wins the Renault 3.5 series then that will help him into a drive for 2012.

  11. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – any chance you can do a “silly season” blog post regarding which drivers will end up where?

    1. James Allen says:

      There won’t be a lot of movement. Mainly lower down the grid, but yes soon

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