Jean Eric Vergne has revealed in a tweet that he will not be driving for the Toro Rosso team in 2015 leaving the way clear for Carlos Sainz Jr who tested for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi to replace him in the car.
Despite a good season & 22 pts, I'll not drive anymore for Toro Rosso in 2015. Thanks for those years. Let's go for another big challenge.
— Jean-Eric Vergne (@JeanEricVergne) November 26, 2014
As Verge said, he leaves the team after a relatively successful campaign in 2014, having outscored his rookie teammate Daniil Kvyat with 22 points compared to 8.
Vergne has driven for Toro Rosso since 2012, competing in 58 Grands Prix and scoring a total of 51 points. He finished 13th in the 2014 drivers’ championship, improving by 2 places from last season. In his debut year he finished 17th.
Red Bull have historically been quite ruthless in dispatching drivers from the junior squad after a couple of years if it’s clear that they’re not going to progress into the senior team, and this trend has continued. It was thought that Vergne might have a chance of staying with Toro Rosso into 2015 though to provide support to Verstappen, although the second seat is now likely to be filled by Carlos Sainz Jr.
Vergne finished ahead of Ricciardo in 2012 but was behind him in 2013, and his best finishing position is 6th in his time in F1. Despite his comparative lack of success in the team, he’s viewed throughout the paddock as being one of the better young drivers in the sport having won the British Formula 3 championship in 2010 and runner up in the 2011 Formula Renault 3.5 championship when he was testing for Toro Rosso.
Given that most other seats on the grid have now been contracted for 2015 and the ongoing uncertainty over whether Caterham (or Marussia/Manor) will make next season’s grid, it’s highly unlikely that Vergne will manage to get a race seat for next year, although he has been linked with a number of testing positions which may help him come back to the sport in the future.
In terms of options for Vergne, the most likely routes are either WEC or DTM – his tweet about a next big challenge suggests he might have his eye on running at Le Mans next year alonside former stablemate Mark Webber. We’ll find out next week if he could be joined by Jenson Button if McLaren decide not to run the British Driver next season.