Edition three on my series on how good drivers are turns to Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.
So just how good is Jean-Eric Vergne?
He is about to embark on his second season in Formula 1, having made his debut in 2012 alongside Daniel Ricciardo after his Toro Rosso team controversially sacked both Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari. He remains in the team for 2013.
He started out in Formula Renault 2.0 in 2008 driving for the SG Formula team in both the Eurocup and WEC varieties of the series, finishing 6th and 4th respectively, with 4 podium finishes in total. He remained running both series for the same team in 2009, finishing 2nd in the championship in both, winning 3 times in the Eurocup and 3 times in the WEC, an impressive season for sure.
He moved to the British Formula 3 series for 2010, winning the championship in impressive style, finishing in P1 an amazing 13 times. He also raced a handful of races in the inaugural GP3 season, scoring 9 points, and in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, winning 1 of the 6 races he competed in. Again, a very impressive season.
He remained in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2011, winning 5 times but was pipped to the championship by highly-rated Canadian Robert Wickens, taking the championship down to the wire. This lead him to be chosen as the Friday morning test driver for Toro Rosso for 3 rounds of the 2011 F1 season.
When Toro Rosso announced that they weren’t keeping either Buemi or Alguersuari for 2012, Vergne was promoted to the drive. If Vergne had an achilles heal in 2012 it was qualifying. It was him that was the most likely to drop out of qualifying at the first hurdle of the recognised midfield teams. However his racecraft was better, and he scored points in only his second appearance in Malaysia.
He wouldn’t score points again however until the destruction derby at Spa. It wasn’t for the lack of trying though, he was running a strong race in Monaco when bafflingly Toro Rosso called him in for wet tyres when it was barely raining, costing him a strong finish. His highest finish was 8th four times during the season, scoring 16 points in total, beating his teammate despite less points finishes.
He remains in the Red Bull family for 2013 but is going to be under pressure to perform. His form in lesser formulae shows he certainly has talent behind the steering wheel, he just needs to show it in both qualifying and the race. If he can put everything together, there is no reason why he cannot have a long career in the sport, but have a season like he did in 2012 and he could find himself going the same way as others have before him like Buemi & Alguersuari.
Its all up to Jean-Eric.