For the second team in a row now, we’ve arrived at a dead end; or rather more politely, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Yes, like with Force India, Toro Rosso have a confirmed driver line-up, if not a controversial one for 2015. Arguably this season’s rookie of the year Daniil Kyvat is being joined by soon to be 17-year-old Max Verstappen, fresh from the crèche.
V-Max’s appointment is bad news for Jean-Eric Vergne, whose three-year tenure in Formula One is now severely under threat. Could he end up at Caterham perhaps? The rumours have been rife, but the likeable Frenchman’s fate may well be a matter of history repeating itself; the perfect example being Sebastien Buemi. Red Bull liked him, as they do the consistent Vergne, but not enough to keep him in the seat at Toro Rosso, and nowhere near enough to put him anywhere near a Red Bull seat. As a result, the Swiss chap got the reserve role at Red Bull Racing, dovetailgin that with a fleeting Sportscar career. It may ‘give you wings’, but both Buemi and now it seems Vergne have rather had their wings clipped.
Besides JEV, Verstappen’s abrupt promotion to the big league has again questioned the integrity of the Red Bull Junior’s programme. Consider this; if Max, who has under 30 car races in his career ever, is now ready for F1, what’s the future for those in the programme currently in higher ranked series?
The likes of 20-year-old Alex Lynn, currently leading the GP3 standings by 32 points, and 19-year-old Carlos Sainz Jr, who as now is dominating the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, may well be, unbelievably, heading down a dead-end route with Red Bull.
Heres’ the perfect case study: António Maria de Mello Breyner Félix da Costa. Or, as he’s better known by motorsport fans, Antonio Felix da Costa. The Portuguese driver was a shoe-in at Toro Rosso for 2014 it seemed, before Danii Kyvat surprisingly stole his thunder. Since then, he’s enjoyed varied success in DTM with BMW, is signed up to compete in the inugrual Formula E seaosn with Amlin Aguri. Despite an outside chance of an F1 seat in the lower echelons of the sport in 2015, it looks likely to be one of the ones that got away.
JEV might be on his way out of Formula One, and a notoriously competitive seat at Toro Rosso that he’s held and held well for three years, but at least he reached the holy grail of Red Bull’s ruthless driver chiseling. Over to you, V-Max and Dan.