Jean-Eric Vergne has admitted that he was left feeling “upset” after being overlooked by Red Bull in their search for a replacement for the departing Mark Webber.
Vergne had been linked with the Red Bull seat along with his Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the immediate wake of Webber’s announcement that he would be leaving Formula One to tackle Le Mans with Porsche.
However, Red Bull announced early in the process to replace Webber that they were only seriously considering Ricciardo of the two Toro Rosso drivers, giving the Australian an evaluative run in their 2013 challenger the RB9 at July’s Young Driver Test at Silverstone.
“I was a little upset that it was him and not me, which is a normal reaction,” Vergne told the French magazine Auto Plus. “But then the leaders of Red Bull explained things clearly to me.
“Daniel has more experience in F1 than me, so it’s part of the logical process. I had a long discussion with the management of Red Bull Racing and everything is now very clear between us. I do not need to read the news to find out what they think of me.”
Despite Red Bull currently favouring his team-mate for the drive, the Frenchman has not completely written off his chances of taking Webber’s seat just yet, explaining that a series of strong results could swing the momentum back in his favour.
“I would be lying to say that the opportunity to take Mark’s seat is not in a corner of my mind. I still have my chance and I’ll push hard for it.
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned about formula one, it’s that the truth of one day is not necessarily that of the next.
“A series of good or bad results, and things can change very quickly, in any direction.
“I know exactly what I have to do.”
If a move to Red Bull fails to materialise then Vergne explained that he would be pleased to stay with Toro Rosso for 2014 and would relish the chance of stepping up to the challenges presented by the introduction of the new regulations and the beginning of a new partnership for the team with Renault.
“I would be very happy to continue with Toro Rosso in 2014”, said the 23-year-old. “There is an interesting challenge with the new technical regulations and the arrival of the Renault engine.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic