Half Term Rookie Report: Jean-Eric Vergne

Career Stats: Jean-Eric Vergne

Having the Red Bull logo painted on to your helmet is by no means a guarentee of success, in fact of late it is considered more of a poisoned chalice. Since Vettel shocked the community with a win from pole in Monza, the following Toro Rosso drivers have had a tough act to follow, Red Bull seeing Vettel as the norm has made their life hard. Last year he said he could have done better than Webber in the RB7, however he has found a little modesty and now says, “I am still small fry!”

The Stats

Races completed 11
Points 4
Retirements 1
Out-qualified team mate 2
Higher race position than team mate 5
Highest qualifying position 11th
Highest race position 8th
Average qualifying position 16.6
Average race position 14.1

The Season

In the same situation as Charles Pic, 2012 has not been the easier season to be a rookie in. All teams are struggling to get to grips with new regulations and new rubber, so there is a distanct lack of data to pass on from more experienced drivers. Then as mentioned above Vergne has joined a highly publicised team, notorious for its ease in dropping drivers mid-season, unlikely to happen this year the off-season will be a nervy time nonetheless.

Looking at the races from Australian to Hungary Vergne has fallen foul of the experience Ricciardo gained in half a season with HRT, although his points tally is double that of the Australian’s at the same point. Since a two race point scoring fiesta, 2 for Ricciardo in his home race debut, and 4 for the Frenchman in the following race in Malaysia, it’s been slim pickings for the pair. Particularly impressive when he scored his points he made up an impressive 10 places, from deep in the field in 18th up to 8th his skill on the intermediate tyres outfoxed those choosing wets.

Monaco was another highpoint for the young driver, running in the points in seventh inclement weather spurred the Toro Rosso pit wall into action and a tyre change saw points and prizes disappear before his very eyes. But this impressive display was soon overshadowed with a questionable overtake attempt on Kovalainen in Valenica created his first and only retirement of the year, so far. Considered a rookie mistake by the Finnish driver, Vergne’s punishment was a 5 place grid drop and a €25,000 fine he had to pay himself.

Before the summer break is the time to build the foundations for the post-break charge to the ultimate flag, and Vergne found himself consolidating his position within the team. Fighting against the car it is hard to discover the true pace, but he is edging closer to Ricciardo all the time and proving a handful on track. At Silverstone, Germany and Hungary he followed his team mate home, the last race saw him squeezed off by a Force India driver and stopping 4 times due to an overheating sidepod.

The Verdict

Generally his race days have been better than his Saturday outings which has been reflected in his points tally, it has also been reflected in the upwards trend beween average qualifying and average race position. Making an average of two places every race shows a good improvement, however since the season started that average has dropped slightly. But this can also be seen in Ricciardo’s statistics too, supporting Marko’s comments about the car letting the drivers down.

Admitting too that “the car is not really moving forward,” good results aren’t going to simply materialise in front of him, however if past performances of the team are anything to go on a second half improvement may be on the cards. And this may be helped by a switch up in the technical department, Giorgio Ascanelli has been absent since the German Grand Prix and word has it that James Key may be taking over the role.

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