Jean Eric Vergne responded to Red Bull’s decision to pick teammate Daniel Ricciardo to partner alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2014, admitting it was a “big disappointment” he wasn’t chosen but was glad that a decision has been made.
“I’ll start by saying how glad I am that the decision as to who will drive at Red Bull Racing next year has finally been made and that we can all move on,” said Vergne on the team website.
“Naturally, it’s a big disappointment for me personally. It would be foolish to claim it isn’t and I don’t think anyone would really believe me if I did.
“However, I can honestly say I’m happy for Daniel. Not crazy happy obviously, but I’ve said previously that if he gets the seat it will be a good thing because it confirms the value of Red Bull’s Junior Team. It makes total sense.”
Vergne insisted his consistency had been better this year compared alongside Ricciardo, but conceded he had been outmatched by the Australian during qualifying.
“The fact is, he has a bit more experience and he’s done a better job in qualifying. However, deep inside I know that we have always been really evenly matched and that’s the positive I take from it. I had more points than him last year, I have more points at the moment this year and I know in my heart that I can still do better, that I can improve.”
Vergne said the decision to promote Ricciardo to Red Bull Racing has renewed his motivation to do better for the rest of the season, and remained convinced that Toro Rosso remains the place where Red Bull looks for its next generation of talent in Formula One.
“For me, everything now is about what I do next. I have to seize the opportunity I have here at Toro Rosso and in the end the future may tell me that this is the best thing that could have happened.
“It makes me want to raise my game because I know that he didn’t beat me over the past season and a half and that, in reality, there is very little to choose between us in terms of ability.”
Speaking to L’Equipe back in July, Vergne remained bullish that he was the better choice over Ricciardo for Mark Webber’s seat, adding that Dr. Helmut Marko, advisor to Red Bull Racing, had reassured him about his future.
Now, Vergne is forging ahead and looking to settle in on more responsibility as the senior driver in Toro Rosso.
“ I think now it’s time for me to take on the responsibility of being a lead driver, of being a driver that takes the team forwards and upwards,” said Vergne.
“I have good faith in the team and I will definitely be there for them.”