Nov.1 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost has admitted he would like to keep Jean-Eric Vergne on board for the 2015 season.
Mere weeks ago, the 24-year-old Frenchman was ruled out of the running after the Faenza team announced that Daniil Kvyat will be joined by the controversially-young and inexperienced rookie Max Verstappen, who is just 17.
But then, at Red Bull’s senior team, Sebastian Vettel announced his shock impending departure, leading to Russian 20-year-old Kvyat being called up to replace him.
Initially, the obvious favourite to replace Kvyat at Toro Rosso next year was Carlos Sainz jr, who had already been surprised to miss out on the Verstappen seat.
But Tost and others expressed concern that pitting Verstappen against Sainz might be a risk too far even for the junior team Toro Rosso, given the drivers’ unprecedented inexperienced and youth.
Suddenly, keeping Vergne for at least another season seemed the better option.
Tost does not hide it.
“I am still convinced that Jean-Eric can do a very good job in formula one if he gets a competitive car,” he told F1’s official website ahead of the US grand prix.
“He has shown this a couple of times and I personally would like to continue with him — but we have to wait to see what Red Bull decides.”
A big hint that Red Bull will indeed follow Tost’s advice and keep Vergne is that, in next month’s post Abu Dhabi test, Verstappen will have both days to himself.
“Ah,” Tost replied, “that Max would get that heavy mileage was decided quite some time ago as we have to give him the chance to get used to the car, the team and all that goes with it.”
But he doesn’t deny that he believes keeping Vergne is the wisest choice for 2015.
“F1 has become fairly complicated and normally you need a reference – especially with the new car that we will have next year – and with two rookies you don’t have that reference,” Tost admitted.
“That is why I would prefer an experienced guy in the second cockpit alongside Max.”
Vergne, who until recently was contemplating his potential exit from F1, is now clinging to hope that he will get another chance in 2015.
“This year, I lost a lot of points through retirements and I feel we could be in a really strong position if we keep going together,” he is quoted by the team’s official website.
“I would love that to happen.”