News that the young Max Verstappen is to join the F1 elite in 2015 has been widely welcomed across the paddock by media and fans alike. What’s not to like? He’s the son of a very popular veteran driver, who is being touted as the fastest thing to come out of Holland since…well… his dad. However, there was at least one household that may not have welcomed the news.
That would be a french household, with the initials J.E.V. embossed on the letterbox. Indeed, it’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Jean-Éric Vergne, who has lost his 2015 Toro Rosso seat to Verstappen Jr. After all, this the man who performed almost identically to current high-flyer Daniel Ricciardo. In fact, so similar was their performances that Vergne had an average finishing position of 12.66 in 2013 – compared to the Australian’s 12.64. Seperated by a cigarette paper.
Alas, poor JEV didn’t get the nod for the vacant Red Bull seat, and 12 months after being considered for one of the top seats, could find himself without a drive in Formula One completely. But what are his options? And does he deserve another punt? The answer to the second of these questions is an obvious yes. Not only does he have a fantastic racing driver name, he also wore a brilliant Francois Cevert tribute skidlid at last year’s Monaco Grand Prix, and that makes him good enough, right?
OK, well he can drive too. During this season he has only failed to get the Toro Rosso into the top 10 twice (when it hasn’t blown up) and has generally raced better than he has qualified. Assuming he does deserve another shot may not be enough, as rides for 2015 are harder to come by than an Australian in a South American embassy. Red Bull, Ferrari, Merc, McLaren, Williams, Lotus, (probably) Marussia, Force India and Sauber all seem to be fairly full/content/unlikely for the coming year (delete where applicable).
This leaves a potential berth at Caterham, whose own future is somewhat in doubt if rumours are to be believed. The most likely scenario for Jean-Éric is that he will go the way of other Red Bull also-rans, and end up as the team’s test/demo/reserve driver for a season or two. There is also a chance that he could make an appearance in WEC, with Nissan making a return to the series next year. Furthermore, there is Formula E – the racing series of choice for ex-F1 drivers.
Whatever the future holds, lets hope it’s just au revoir for now for the likeable Frenchman.