Street Fight
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Monaco Grand Prix
What’s going wrong for Jean-Eric Vergne?
Posted By: Justin Hynes  |  29 May 2014   |  11:16 am GMT  |  79 comments

In the run-up to the Monaco Grand Prix, Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne spoke of the need for a driver to humble in his approach to Monaco. The Frenchman had been speaking about the proximity of the barriers, the levelling nature of the street circuit and the need for a driver to feed himself into the track slowly across a grand prix weekend.

Leaving the street circuit on Sunday evening the Frenchman would forgiven for looking back on his statement with a heavy heart – his humble approach had turned into a humbling experience, through no fault of his own.

Until Sunday afternoon Vergne had enjoyed an exemplary weekend. In first practice he was 15th fastest, eclipsing the impressive Daniil Kvyat by seven tenths of a second, though to be fair it was the Russian rookie’s first visit to the street circuit – in any category.

In the wet afternoon session Vergne as usual, excelled. The 24-year-old has consistently proven to be one of the grid’s finest wet weather exponents and a strange session was enlivened by a period during which Vergne and Kvyat ventured out on intermediates and swapped fastest times. When a dry line began to appear Vergne was quickly out of the blocks and lowered the benchmark by more than five seconds. Even as the rest of the field emerged, Vergne was able to hold onto to an excellent fourth on the timesheet.

The good work continued on Saturday morning when a cautious exploration of the track limits netted ninth in FP3 and then an excellent qualifying session handed him seventh. His final Q2 lap was particularly impressive. Whereas in his first two seasons the Frenchman often crumbled under the pressure of having to deliver a single lap, in Monaco he put in an error-free final tour to muscle into Q3.

The race, though, was a different story. Vergne did his part – he made a good start (again often a problem area in the past) and cemented himself into seventh. With retirements occurring all around, Vergne afterwards said he was sure he could have managed fifth – a career best. However, on lap 26 he pitted following Adrian Sutil’s accident and his team, desperate to keep him ahead of Kevin Magnussen, released him straight into the path of the Dane.

The resultant drive-through penalty dropped Vergne to rear of the field, behind Jules Bianchi and an exhaust problem on lap 51 ended his race. Whether the issue was exacerbated by the time spent sitting on Bianchi’s gearbox is open to question but the fact remains that in sight of a solid points-scoring finish, Vergne was again robbed of the chance.

And it’s been that way since the start of the season. In Spain, a Friday afternoon fumble with a detached wheel saw him receive   a 10-place grid penalty. He qualified a useful 11th but started 21st where he toiled helplessly, suffering with a locking front brake, until lap 25 when another exhaust problem saw him exit the fray. In Bahrain, hit by a Lotus, floor damage ended his race. In Malaysia power unit issues halted progress. It’s been one, long catalogue of woe.

The mechanical gremlins and persistent finger trouble will be a source of more than frustration for Vergne. Having lost out on a seat at Red Bull to Daniel Ricciardo at the end of last year, in no small part due to JEV’s qualifying issues, his status as a Red Bull driver is in jeopardy. This is his third season with Toro Rosso and no driver has lasted longer than that with the team. Both Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were given a three-season stint and both were axed as talent rose up the Red Bull Junior Team ladder. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Scott Speed and Sébastien Bourdais were given just two. The same is true now. While the Junior Team’s ranked have been thinned this season, Carlos Sainz Jr is going well in Formula Renault 3.5 and GP3 driver Alex Lynn is knocking on the door. Whether they are better racers than Vergne is an unknown but their time is coming and Vergne is surely aware of that. Vergne will also be keenly aware that in the eight seasons the team has been on the grid only Liuzzi has managed a move to a non-Red Bull team, the Italian leaving the Faenza squad for stints at Force India and HRT.

Vergne’s cause isn’t helped by the fact that he is taller and heavier than the Russian – Vergne says up to alb – which is hurting. Also, team boss Franz Tost has repeatedly referred to the Frenchman’s struggles with the new brake-by-wire system, which at the opening round at least caused major problems for both drivers, with Vergne saying: “Sometimes you’ve got this massive recharging at the rear, which recharges too much, so you have locking at the rear. Sometimes it doesn’t want to recharge and the brake goes all forward and you have no brakes on the rear and you lock the front and just go straight in the gravel.”

It’s unfortunate for the Frenchman, as his performances this year are much better than paper would suggest. A cursory look at the stats sheets will show that Monaco aside Kvyat has generally been quicker in each sector or each circuit, that the Russian is faster through the speed traps and generally posts a quicker best lap than Vergne in races. What is missing from the Russian’s 2014 CV, however, is consistency. Vergne, by dint of experience, is able to stitch his sectors together and has outqualified the Russian five to one so far.

It’s a real sign that Vergne has upped his game. Last year against Ricciardo, the French driver was trounced in qualifying – 15-4. His 2013 failure to maximise potential on Saturdays frequently put him in troublesome areas of the grid and left him tussling for space that often wasn’t there. Over the winter Vergne insisted that this was his biggest priority and he has clearly put in the work.

The improvement hasn’t gone unnoticed, particularly as Kvyat has been impressive so far. Vergne’s ability to match and eclipse the talented Russian have, according to paddock sources, earned him appreciative glances from a number of other teams.

The issue for Vergne now is to hammer that message home – both to anyone he wants to woo and to his existing team.

Team Principal Franz Tost, infatuated with the performance of GP3 winner Kvyat attempted to give Vergne a boost recently but succeeded only in damning his senior racer with faint praise. Lauding Kvyat as a future champion, he remembered not to omit Vergne and referred to him as a “sensible driver”  – hardly a confidence booster.

It’s a crucial period of the season now for Vergne. Last season he went to Montreal – a track he favours – and scored his best result of the season. He needs to repeat the performance. After that is the unknown of Austria and then a three-race rush, through Silverstone, Germany and Hungary, to the summer break. Going into that break with more than a record of a single points finish in the season opener would go a long way to building a case for a fourth season at STR or a switch.

And to do that he needs his team on board. After joining Williams in April, Rob Smedley railed against the operational errors that cost the team valuable points in this season’s early races. Last week team boss Claire Williams praised the new head of vehicle performance’s work and said the team had eradicated the issues. Vergne might do well to take a leaf out of the ex-Ferrari man’s book and start pointing fingers.


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I think Kvyat is doing a great job in his first season climbing the steep learning curve and nearly matching JEV (now 3 seadons)or betterhim by weekend.

Purely by this logic Kvyat has more potential.

If JEV cannot light up the board in next few races he could be history.

kenneth chapman

vergne will need every bit of help he can get to retain his seat now. over the week end sainz jr nailed both races at spa which gives him a 43 point lead in the championship.

this should send a shiver down vergne’s spine and remind him just how tenuous his grip on the TR seat really is.

if sainz can wedge vergne and get a drive in a TR next year that would mean two young hotshoes in the mix and a good possible back up if vettel should decide to up stakes despite it being highly unlikely that he will.

red bull have great talent bank at the moment and once they sort the car out they will be right back in the mix….i think?


JEVs problem is JEV.

He seems to be mentally not up to the job, despite his skill set.

Even if those around you are not giving you praise, you have to dig deep and deliver.

He seems to be constantly looking over at others, hence the Webber comment, and saying how quick he was except XYZ situation.

Maybe the Red Bull team saw this weakness, and realised that to be beat Seb, you would need a strong head.


Great post James

It’s easy to focus on the top teams and the politics that surround them, but it’s worth remembering there are 22 cars on the grid and they all have their own story to tell.

More over I enjoy reading the informed and considered comments by fans that a well written post demands.



James. More posts on other drivers and their challenges would make for good reading too.



Pre F1 JEV was in my eyes the hottest driver coming up the ladder after Lewis Hamilton.

I believe he is a more talented driver then Daniel Ricciardo (who by the way does a hell of a job at RB). To see the talent of JEV one should watch the WSR race at Monza, where JEV drove with a broken front wing, chasing Daniel for the lead the whole race. What I found impressive was his disgust on the podium, displaying his hunger to win.

His talent shows in wet conditions indeed, always rising to the top.

Chased by demoralising bad luck I really admire his positive attitude and self belief.

He deserves an F1 seat.

PLEASE JEV, though generous Red Bull gave you your chance in F1, don’t wait for Franz ‘n Helmut to sit together and decide your future.

Even if it means going to a Marrusia…I pray more Force India or Lotus.


The pages of mototsport have many similar stories – it measn nothing compared to F1. martin brundle nearly beat Senna in British F3. How did their comparative F1 careers pan out thereafter?


They chose Ricciardo for a lot of reasons.

1-Scored more points

2-Outqualified his parter in what was a real beat-down last year.

3-Had good performances on far more occasions, even if sometimes he didn’t bring the points.

He was the best choice, without a doubt. JEV is not a bad driver, but he wouldn’t be achieving as much as Daniel in that car. Consistence is the name of the game, and besides Vettel’s problems, Daniel is showing he has it too.


“1-Scored more points”

Sure about that?


Ricciardo scored 20 to JEV’s 13 last season. Don’t know why people think JEV scored more points. In the 2 years Ricciardo 30 JEV 29.


Because in the media JEV was always at pains to tell anybody who cared to listen that he was outperforming Ricciardo.



over the 2 seasons they raced together at Torro Rosso, Daniel Ricciardo scored 30 points (10 in 2012 and 20 in 2013) JEV scored 29 points (16 in 2012 and 13 in 2013). Ricciardo had 12 top 10 finishes to 7, JEV was close on points as he simply had more 8th place finishes and RIC had more 9th place finishes which are worth half as many points. Qualifying was a no contest with JEV very rarely out qualifying RIC. I can also think of at least 3 occasions were RIC was running in the points when the TR died from mechanical issues.


Plus Korea 2012 where Ricciardo had a brake issue and let Vergne passed, so that’s one 8-9 result that would switch.


If the difference between them after two seasons is just the one point, I’d leave out the “scored more points” part of it when comparing them as it creates an unfair impression.


Maybe he is down because last year he was racing a guy who currently is beating Vettel and realises had he beaten Ric he would have been in the Red Bull. You can go from zero to hero in F1 very quickly. I think maybe this is the end of JEV at the end of this year. Unfortunate but what can you do. Had he beaten Ric, he’d be in the Red Bull and even if he was not beating Vettel he’d be a very solid driver in a very fast car. He will cheer up towards the end of the season probably when Vettel starts to extract his own peak performance out of the car. I’m not a huge Vettel fan but that kid is supremely quick.


I don’t see what difference bringing JEV in and dropping Alguersuari two years ago has made to Toro Rosso. I think Jaime was very badly treated by the team and I wish he was still in F1.


I feel the same and I’m sure many others do too. But that’s sport for you. Especially when you’re part of the Red Bull conveyer belt of (relative) failure. I say that because no drivers from Toro Rosso aside from Vettel have really shone much away from TR, but then as James said, very few have been given the chance. Liuzzi was one and I never rated him. Flashes of speed and it stayed that way throughout his time in F1.


I’ve always liked and rated JEV. His qualifying was his downside but he’s been let down more by bad luck and reliability woes. TR seem to have their best car in the last few seasons (respective to other peoples’ pace) but they need more finishes!


I remembered a few years ago (think it might have been 2011) Vergne was quoted before he even had driven an F1 car that if he was given the chance at Red Bull he would “do no worse then Webber”. I instantly had no respect for him and thought he was a laughing stock. Well it’s 2014 and i still have absolutely no respect for him and i am still laughing because come the end of this season he is going to be out of F1.


What do you expect? The guy is French, the most insulting, clueless people on the planet.

kenneth chapman

yes jack, i do seem to recall that quotation and at the time thought that it was kinda stupid and totally presumptious. as if……


Poor Erik. Like Vettel he seems to have inherited Webber’s bad luck.


Jean Eric Verne is a talented driver. Pity that some thindriving t going his way. A level headed man & an asset to F1.

Hopefully things will turn his way. But its cut & thrust at Toro Rosso so it as to be a quick turnaround. Or its another Rookie lurking in the shadow of Jean Eric Verne.

Lets hope he doesn’t end up in a Sutil/Koby situation of driving aimlessly going nowhere reasonably slow.


Thats.. pity that some things in arw not going his way

Ooops … 🙂


JEV is a solid driver, did a pretty decent job against Riccardo last year and may have been just as quick in the red bull.

Sebastian Bourdais had a great year in the torro rosso against SV.

Cars make drivers, put everyone in a merc and they would put in on pole too.

Changing the rules have been interesting because of we like to see change, but it kills racing until all the teams figure it out. Regretfully the little teams never figure it out. So really we have f1 with aurora cars all over again.


Vergne mentioned over the Chinese GP weekend that the Toro Rosso car was overweight, which meant JEV’s extra weight versus Kvyat was definitely costing him lap time (the BBC commentary mentioned 2 tenths IIRC, how accurate this is I don’t know).

With that in mind, JEV has been pretty impressive this season I reckon.


If we look back in history I fear JEV will loose his seat to another of the redbull young drivers.

Super impressed with Kvyat performance so far and will only get better so that’s even more pressure on JEV.


How much sponsor money does JEV bring to the table? That’s the key to moving to another team. Look at Maldonado, clearly an inferior talent to JEV and the Hulk. No money, no seat.


This is an old argument, but: Maldonado has won a race, totally on merit, in an inferior car. He is at the very least deserving of some respect for that.

kenneth chapman

@ wellbalanced…true but it was a one off never to be repeated performance. just like hulkenberg’s pole in brazil. these anomalies occur from time to time but without any follow up they just lose any gloss and fall into the ‘right place, right time, right conditions’pile of results. on their own…meaningless.


Very much agree with article, glad Vergne getting a bit of attention.


Is JEV the next Hulkenburg?


I suspect not. The general view is the Hulkenberg has excellent one-lap pace (his weight penalty will hurt him against Perez in lap time and tyre wear even if the car in on the weight limit due to weight transfer effects). JEV is more noted for his race pace. If you are consistently qualifying behind Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso you are unlikely to beat them over a season.

Hulkenberg, due to his qualifying has occasional races where he is ahead of star drivers. The first few races this year he was often racing Alonso. He’s kept Hamilton behind him in some races, such as Korea. Those things get you talked about in a way that a strong drive from 13th on grid just doesn’t.


I don’t agree, From talking to engineers who work with him, I think he is in the Alonso mould, albeit not on same level – ie a relentless driver in races, reliable and sure to get you the strongest result available on the day.



I rely on the fact that Hulk is regularly in the mix with the big boys in his average car, his name popping up in quali as well as points sheet regularly and beating his team mates in F1— these are clear signs of solid driver.

The test he is desperately waiting for is to compete with the very best in a top team.


Credit to JAF1 and the writer for putting a spotlight on something alot of fans have been wondering. Good to see JEVs talent isn’t going un-noticed.


I look at this from a slightly different perspective.

Even if JEV is a good driver he has really no where to go within the Red Bull camp. Vettle wont leave till Alonso leaves Ferrari and Dan sure isn’t going to leave next year.

I’m not sure what would be in his contract but his only chance would be for RBR to release him to another team, otherwise he will be out of a seat next year because RBR wants to use TR to farm talent that is coming through.

I once tried to compare Dan and JEV’s results when the seat for RBR was up for grabs. However it is quite hard as they hardly ever both finished a race. TR has an astonishing record of having only car finish a race.


“I once tried to compare Dan and JEV’s results when the seat for RBR was up for grabs. However it is quite hard as they hardly ever both finished a race.”

Yep, which is why qualifying is so important, and why Ricciardo got the nod.

kenneth chapman

@ andrew M….yes you are partially correct but one other major factor was ricciardo’s surprising race day racecraft. i recall on more than a few occasions ricci dicing with others in far superior cars and holding his own until the inevitable happened.

in particular one occasion involved a great dice with alonso and ricciardo that proved that he could go wheel to wheel without incident. it was performances like this that put him head and shoulders above vergne, IMO.


Daniel suffered alot of technical failures whilst at Toro Rosso. Hence his low scoring finish.


“Has Ricciardo’s success made you reconsider Vergne?” – saying no would make it look like I don’t rate him but I always thought he was a good, though unlucky, driver. The kind of driver who, with a team that could win races, would win 5 or so in a career. Someone like Alboreto, Patrese or Fisichella, all of which lasted a long time in the sport.


Nice point. He could be a good and reliable driver. For example in this year’s Williams I think he would on par with Massa and Bottas.


It’s like anything, we are drawn to celebrity and momentum, in sports as well as other walks of life. Real, actual results don’t always matter, it’s human nature to look at what is eye-catching, even if the technical side of us knows it’s just a fluke.

Look at Perez – in the Sauber he wasn’t much better than his teammates, but he was well placed with that cars amazing ability to preserve the tyres to get some podiums. He wasn’t a slouch but he was hardly the next Lewis Hamilton – but then he was lauded by Ferrari and McLaren (and a host of pundits like Eddie Jordan) as definitely the next young WDC. So he gets Lewis’ vacated seat in McLaren, and rapidly goes off the boil (both at Sauber and McLaren).

You sort of expect it from fans – they look at their hero’s with a rosy glow – their successes are obviously down to talent, their failures probably someone elses fault (witness the whole raft of conspiracy theories against any team mate of Lewis Hamilton should he ever be beaten – whether it’s Alonso, Button or now Rosberg). And that’s fine – that’s what fans do. They’re fanatical about their driver. It’s like friends and family we often defend behaviour we would condemn in others.

But the weird thing is these teams, with their rafts of data and computer modelling and statistical analysis – it often still comes down to gut instinct and being swayed by the last performance on track – even if the driver is beset by mechanical issues.

JEV is just on the losing curve of the ‘take notice’ stakes. He came in and lost the qualifying battle against Ricciardo. Although he generally outscored Ricciardo in most races, it was the Australian’s speed and (probably to some extent) his outgoing Charisma that got him noticed. It’s weird to think that Ricciardo and JEV are the same age. Ricciardo seems a lot younger. It’s not just that he looks youthful and bounces around like a puppy, he just doesn’t seem to have the burden on his shoulders that JEV does.

Now JEV has a new teammate, who again is nowhere near as consistent as JEV but who came in and put in a few flashy moments for a pure rookie – and JEV is on a loser again.

It’s sad but I guess it’s human nature. We look for talent, but we also want to like certain characters and will overlook their flaws if they are attractive to us in some way (I don’t just mean good looks of course, just what they represent as a person). JEV seems like a nice fella but he’s not managed to break the disinterest curve.

I expect he’ll either make a move to a lower grid team for a year or two and then move on to development driving or he’ll just get fed up and go to another formula where he can probably thrive on results. Sadly like the other discarded Red Bull Academy drivers, he’s just in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Very good thinking from Aura.


Nice post; was I the only person who read this and thought of Nick Heidfeld? Look at that list of team-mates: Raikkonen, Massa, Webber, Kubica. He beat all of them too (he was leading Webber before his season finished early with injury) yet was never seen to be as good as those guys. Probably the best illustration of your post.

Regarding JEV, this is a good article from James because I had actually fallen into the trap of thinking Kvyat was almost dominating him and actually it appears much closer than that. In one particularly uncharitable moment, I did wonder why JEV bothered turning up. I’m not actually sure Vergne fits this description as well as Heidfeld used to. Part of this, of course, is his wretched luck; he has definitely been very unlucky. Hence his quietly consistent race pace, if he does have it, isn’t yielding quietly consistent 8th place finishes. Instead, it’s another DNF.

However, I do also think there’s something to the argument that he has underachieved. His junior formula record is impeccable, and occasionally we have seen that in F1 (I remember Korea 2012, and Monaco & Canada last year). Yet that serves only to exacerbate those other races where he’s not qualified very well and we’ve probably seen him fighting a losing battle in about 16th place before the retirement comes. It’s hard to impress Red Bull bosses with that form. Granted, James’ article hints at him addressing things, but Kvyat has backed up his momentum by out-pointing Vergne – all in his rookie season. Yes, part of this is bad luck, but I think it’s almost as if, should bad luck intervene, he needs to be notably ahead of Kvyat when it happens (as in Monaco before Kvyat’s retirement). I’m not sure this has been happening, but maybe I’ve been unobservant.


Nick Heidfeld was a solid driver who was able to extract results that more or less typified the potential of the car. When pitted against the likes of Webber, Kubica, Massa (I left Raikkonen off this list as they were virtual rookies at the time) he wasn’t able to get the key results when the opportunities were there, or if the chips were way down .

Check Kubica in 2008: BMW-Sauber had one real chance of winning a race, and it was Robert that pulled it off in Canada – at Nick’s expense as he was the only other driver in with a shot. The Williams-BMW of 2005 was developed in a miscalibrated wind-tunnel, chewed its tyres and had an engine that was a derivative of the old formula (while others chose a new platform for a 1-engine-per-race-weekend format,and often had to be turned down at inopportune times). While ahead on points, there was little doubt that Webber was the driver that had the x-factor. Some of Heidfeld’s points lead that year could be attributed to the second place podium in Monaco which really should have been Mark’s as he had track position before a dodgy internal undercut at the last stop. Not many people at Williams would tell you that Nick is better than Mark.

As for JEV, I think his head must be down after seeing how Ricciardo responded to the carrot of the RBR seat last year, and then seeing him take it to Vettel this year – virtually assuring Daniel of the 2015 drive as well. Add in the rapid and ice-cold Kvyat, and Vergne’s F1 career options appear to be STR or bust…

kenneth chapman

two very good posts there. both of them have merit when assessing the ‘vergne’ factor.

simon mawdsley

there’s also the argument that it’s easier to make a driver consistent than it is to make him fast


I feel bad for him. The only reason Kvyat’s supposedly outdoing him is because of the weight, the lack of misfortune and the brake-by-wire system, which is giving even Raikkonen a headache. JEV had an amazing weekend in Monaco. I can’t say Kvyat’s made anywhere near as good of an impression on me at any of the races so far this year.

While much of Ricciardo’s success is down to Vettel not liking the current cars and having even worse luck than Vergne, you have to say that it should really make Red Bull reconsider Vergne too. After all, during their time together, Dan only outscored JEV by one point in the end.


@ FragrantGimp How does the statement that Daniel Ric success is only because of Vettel’s dislike of the current car make any sense? RIC has no bearing on VET performance and vice versa (apart from psychology and team support). Why would VET’s better liking of the car make RICs driving any worse? It wouldn’t, all it would mean is that both RBR cars would be scoring more points and pushing each other more. RIC would still be driving as well as he currently is & both would be chasing far behind 2 silver arrows.

kenneth chapman

some common sense there.

kenneth chapman

hahaha…yes, some uncommon sense there.


I’ve been thinking ,in todays world, maybe the saying should be changed to “uncommon sense”.

kenneth chapman

you make a couple of interesting points there. if you followed the red bull decision making history [on their decision to give ricciardo the drive] as outlined by horner/marko et al the points on the table were on a very minor factor and that is as it should be.

total racing profiles plus race data was what convinced red bull to take ricciardo and what a great choice that has proved to be, at this point in time. remember that both drivers have had two non races each. bahrein gave us a mere glimpse of ricciardo’s talent. of course once vettel get’s himself organised this may change as he is a 4 x WDC after all and arguably should be top of the pile.

as for the difficulty some drivers are having with the new configurations i do find it rather anachronistic that those with so much experience and titles attached to their names are struggling. these guys are the ‘creme de la creme’ [or supposed to be] of the world class driving talent pool.

as for TR, i do think that you are maybe missing the point here somewhat as kvyat, considering his status experience wise, is quite a revelation. IMO of course. how good will this kid be if he can continue to improve race on race, season on season?


Yes but brake by wire is extremely different to what they were used to, it will just take some time to perfect this. Some cars systems are better than others. The Ferrari one is clearly not the best

kenneth chapman

@ NickH….brake by wire…granted, is very different to what they have been used to but despite the differences between teams systems they are now six races in and should have a handle on it.

what i am saying is simply this, if they are as good as they are supposed to be then surely those that are ‘floundering’ should be re evaluated. massive teams with many many hundreds of employees who do nothing else but build and race cars are working hard to fix these problems yet the driver/s are still not capable. bit of a worry there.


Good post. Kvyat is a rookie & he is showing the signs of being a winner. JEV has never shown that.

IMHO JEV is not good enough for F1. Sad to say if you had a choice between he & Maldonado (removing the $ he brings), any good judge would still take Maldonado over JEV for pure speed & ability.

In Melbourne, JEV was poor (I was there). He had off after off and couldn’t even keep off the white lines/ grass when braking. A 3 year F1 driver should not be making those errors.

As for comments and the post talking about bad luck. I always remember in 1991 (or so) and an interview with Jackie Stewart on Australian TV about the ongoing misfortune of Mansell in winning the WDC. His words were along the lines of, ‘the best prepared and fastest drivers always seem to avoid most of the bad luck, so perhaps Nigel just hasn’t been able to put it all together yet in the right car’. I firmly agree with this view. Just compare Vettel to Webber – bad luck or was Webber just not quite good enough compared to Vettel? JEV is certainly not a shadow of what Webber ever was, so where does that place him? Not good enough for F1 is the answer.

kenneth chapman

oops done it again, should read ‘were ONLY a very minor factor…. sorry

kenneth chapman

vergne is talented, no doubt about that but IMO he lacks the racecraft that ricciardo had despite him actually gaining more points at the end of the ’13 season.

whilst we are ostensibly looking at vergne the yardstick to measure him by is ricciardo and i am confident that red bull made the right decision which has been confirmed on so many occasions by red bull themselves.

vergne is, once again IMO, too mercurial in his racing. it is a pity that he has had such abysmal luck with his cars etc etc etc. does he have a future? maybe but he will have to do a lot of impressive races if he is keep his position in F1.

the cold hard fact is that if he is not WDC material than he has to go from TR. carlos sainz jnr is also an exciting prospect and i would be surprised if he isn’t on the grid next year.


For the record, IMO the young drivers who have the consistency and mental capacity to challenge for a WDC within the next few years are: Daniel, The Incredible Hulk, young Kyvat and the sensational Bianchi.

I’m not saying they all will win WDC, more than they can challenge season long for a WDC.

Bottas? Possibly, but I’ll reserve judgement on him, he was all at sea (no pun intended!) at Monaco, so still a few rough edges on his consistency.

What a mouth-watering prospect potentially in a few years time: Bianchi at Ferrari (alongside Sebastian?), the two Daniel’s at Red Bull (if Sebastian leaves) and the Hulk at Macca-Honda……and of course Lewis and Nico Ros at Merc F1 (if they are still there)………..

Six or seven great drivers fighting tooth and nail for a championship, sounds fantastic…..


I don’t have any real arguments with your list. I find the whole driver spotting thing interesting. I don’t normally see much of lower classes, only reading about them. For Kvyat to be plucked from GP3 and given an F1 drive makes sense in the context of Red Bull needing to choose from three drivers. For Williams to pick Bottas as he’s a GP3 champ when there were GP2 and FR3.5 winners available makes me wonder what the selection process involved? Did Bottas’ manager ask on the right day? That worked for Mark Webber with Norbert Haug.

Alan Jones has said the Williams guys have told him Bottas is “the real deal”, but not much has stood out to me. Qualifying in Canada to me was as much about not making errors when the conditions were at their best as much as a demonstration of speed. Austin was good, but many drivers have strong races. I haven’t seen anything that says he’s anything other than a solid driver who has good days when he and his engineers hit the sweet spot.


Bottas is mentored by Toto Wolff, Williams shareholder


You omitted Grosjean. Under difficult circumstances this year, he is getting a vast amount out of the Lotus. Last year, he was the only driver who could hang with the Bulls in the last few races.

Bottas and Magnussen have an immense amount of talent and are seriously quick at a young age. Magnussen, in particular, just stepped out of a Formula Renault car into a Formula 1 car. And once Bottas finds some consistency, he will more regularly show how quick he is.

There are a dozen F1 drivers who have the talent to win world championships. If every year was like 2012, where the performance curve was all over the places because no one could figure out the tires in the first half of the season, we would be in for some epicly competitive racing.


You’re right, I forgot about the Romain empire. As Mark so eloquently put it, he was a “first lap nutcase” but he matured very well indeed.

My forgetfulness about Grosjean shows just how fickle F1 is, and if you’re not running at the front you tend to get overlooked………….


Sainz Jr. is not good. He’s been getting worse and worse with each passing year, even moreso than Da Costa. At this rate they might as well look at someone like Visoiu instead.


Sainz Jr. just won both races at spa and now leads the championship by 43 points. not bad for somebody who you think is getting worse 🙂

kenneth chapman

@ rich B…. why do facts always spoil an opinion?

kenneth chapman

@ fragrant gimp….i certainly have no idea where you are getting your info but sainz just won both races at spa and now has a brilliant 43points lead in their championship.

i look forward to seeing where your sources are?


NO thats not right – Carloz Sainz Jnr is a great prospect & he should be in F1 now. If anyone followed his tests last year- one day he was actually fastest of the Red Bull drivers – he was also very quick in the STR. I dont think there was anything in it between him & Kvyat even Franz Tost said words to that effect..i just think it came down to “fit” with engineers and communication. I believe they even seriously considered both at one point.. So Jean Eric will have a tough road ahead of that Im sure.


Meant that for Ser Ken.


Based on what? His increasing shoe-size? Please.


‘Sainz Jr. is getting worse and worse with each passing year.’ not quite, he’s currently having his best season dominating the f3.5 Renault series.


Interesting view, opposite to mine but I have to say I am not following Sainz Jr. career. However I recall Alonso saying two years ago, asked about which spanish driver he saw as the real deal for the future, that it was Sainz Jr. He sounded pretty convinced. And he completely overlooked Alguersuari, which was not a bad driver by any means.

kenneth chapman

is that right? oh well i’m sure that the decision makers at red bull/toro rosso will be right onto that.


James, sorry to be flippant, but shouldn’t the headline be “What’s going right for Jean Eric Vergne?”

Perhaps he’s ran over a nun? Walked under too many ladders? Accidentally poisoned a black cat?????

Seriously, he does seem in danger of being a forgotten man in F1.

kenneth chapman

he wouldn’t be the first and he won’t be the last.


Vergne, bianchi and the hulk need to find thr way to the top teams asap


It’s the Hulk I feel sorry for, he’s overlooked for his weight. Time to bring in a minimum weight for the drivers and those that don’t meet it, get weight added to their suits. That would help everybody, as a lot of the drivers look way to thin! Let’s face it, as long as the minimum weight is car and driver combined, the engineers will want the lighter driver, so they can add more movable ballast.


The only one of those worthy of a top team is Hulk. The others are still unproven.

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