But the world’s most glamorous sport is going through tough economic times and talent isn’t as valued as it once was by the midfield teams.
Vergne, 24, will leave Toro Rosso at the end of the season. The marginal decision which saw Toro Rosso’s owners and senior team, Red Bull, choose Daniel Ricciardo as their successor to Mark Webber for this season, has all but ended Vergne’s F1 career.
At Toro Rosso, three years of service is as much as you can give and Vergne’s time is up. He will be replaced by Max Verstappen, son of former Dutch racer Jos. By the time of the Australian Grand Prix, Verstappen will be just 17.
Vergne and Ricciardo jousted for two years. They were fairly even for the majority of their time together and Vergne even finished ahead of Ricciardo in the 2012 Drivers Championship. However, the Australian was always the more fancied driver. But his success this season makes you wonder whether Vergne would be doing much different, should he have been the ‘chosen one’.
Now, the Frenchman is racing to impress potential suitors. In theory it shouldn’t be too difficult. Vergne has more credentials than the likes of Esteban Gutierrez, who has struggled since his arrival last year, and Pastor Maldonado, who has had four mainly fruitless years. But where Vergne struggles, they excel. Money.
Teams who are struggling target drivers who can supply their own finance, leaving the teams with no need to pay them. Sponsors have helped and accelerated the careers of Gutierrez, Maldonado, Sergio Perez and Vitaly Petrov. Vergne has no such backing and, because of that, a drive is unlikely. The midfield teams just can’t afford to employ someone like Vergne.
If life was fair, he and former Toro Rosso drivers, Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari would have been given a chance elsewhere. After all, Toro Rosso is an audition to show if these youngsters can be a world champion and only five current drivers have actually won the sport’s biggest drive. Make no mistake, Vergne is not a world superstar who is tipped to go on and win the title. But he is definitely one who deserves the chance to establish himself elsewhere.
Instead Vergne will join Buemi and Alguersuari on the shelf, on the outside looking in. Thrown out by Toro Rosso for not quite showing enough to suggest he can be a champion and now struggling to find a race seat anywhere. Formula One remains cruel to its drivers.
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