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.