Mid-Season Review: Jean-Eric Vergne

When Daniel Ricciardo ascended to the Red Bull seat at the end of last year, many analysts were questioning what Jean-Eric Vergne still had to play for. The Toro Rosso seats have always proved to either make or break a driver’s career – there is supposedly no middle ground. However, Vergne has found himself in this proverbial middle-ground and has responded well to the disappointment of failing to snatch the Red Bull seat.

Season So Far…

Australian Grand Prix
8th
Malaysian Grand Prix
Retired
Bahrain Grand Prix
Retired
Chinese Grand Prix
12th
Spanish Grand Prix
Retired
Monaco Grand Prix
Retired
Canadian Grand Prix
8th
Austrian Grand Prix
Retired
British Grand Prix
10th
German Grand Prix
13th
Hungarian Grand Prix
9th

How Good Is JEV?

Just how good is Jean-Eric Vergne? It appears to be one of the great mysteries in the paddock, as the Frenchman’s true ability is somewhat of an enigma. Considering the fact that Vergne and Ricciardo shared similar race pace during their time at Toro Rosso, one wonders whether JEV could have beaten Sebastian Vettel in the manner that Ricciardo has so far this season. Had Vergne been signed by the quadruple world champions, would he have won races in 2014? Its a question which will always remain unanswered.
So far this season, Vergne has once again left analysts scratching their heads. Statistics suggest that he has had a slight edge over Daniil Kvyat, yet considering his comparative bundles of experience, many state that he should be heads and shoulders above the young Russian who he is only beating by a nose – a nose which is far shorter than the obscene STR9’s. Personally,I think it seems harsh to criticize Vergne for failing to dominate a teammate who is widely regarded as a future World Champion, even if he is only 20. If Kvyat was beating JEV on a regular basis, then criticisms would be justifiable. As it is, Vergne is standing up well against his teammate and in a season when reliability is a key issue on both sides of the garage, there are less opportunities to impress.

Where Next?

As soon as Ricciardo made the jump to Red Bull at the expense of Vergne, questions began to circulate about the Frenchman’s future and after being so publicly snubbed, it would perhaps be difficult for a driver to find motivation and regain momentum. Vettel and Ricciardo seem to be stable at Red Bull and with Kvyat seemingly impressing the management on a regular basis already, a move to Red Bull in the future seems off the cards for JEV, unless he can begin to churn out show-stopping performances on a regular basis and keep his teammate at arms length.
In all honesty, Vergne’s best chance of staying in the sport in the future is to probably move away from Red Bull altogether. Toro Rosso is not a place for a battle-hardened veteran and young talent is never far away, with Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen currently impressing in junior formula. If I were a team boss, I would be monitoring Vergne’s performances very closely indeed as he certainly has the potential for success. After posting highly respectable results against tough teammates, the chances of finding a diamond with JEV are certainly more likely than finding a dud.

As For The Rating…

Jean-Eric Vergne’s 2014 campaign so far warrants 7/10
In an unreliable car, Vergne has managed to score some valuable points and more importantly outscore his rookie teammate. While he was perhaps expected to perform even better against Kvyat than he has, events such as the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Vergne looked impressive throughout the weekend, have demonstrated that when the stars align, Jean-Eric can deliver a result which totally eclipses that of his super-talented teammate.          

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