Formula 1

Red Bull bosses taking major risk as Jean-Eric Vergne departs

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Jean-Eric Vergne has confirmed he will not be racing a fourth season with Toro Rosso in 2015.

The Frenchman made the announcement via his Twitter page on Wednesday ending a three-year stay with the junior Red Bull team.

"Despite a good season & 22 points, I'll not drive anymore for Toro Rosso in 2015," he said. "Thanks for those years. Let's go for another big challenge."

All change at Toro Rosso... again

The tweet has confirmed that for the second time in recent years, Toro Rosso will have a completely new line-up made up of two rookie drivers from the Red Bull driver program.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen is already known to be taking the seat left by the promoted Daniil Kvyat and now it seems likely Carlos Sainz Jr. is being lined up to make the move up from GP2.

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The Spaniard completed 100 laps of running behind the wheel of the RB10 on Tuesday, at the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, while one of his likely competitors for the seat, GP3 champion Alex Lynn drove for Lotus on Wednesday. 

Whoever is chosen to join the 17-year-old Verstappen, many feel it is another big risk by the head of Red Bull's young driver program Dr Helmut Marko.

Learnt from history?

As I mentioned he has previous when it comes to ousting two drivers, who were doing quite well at the team, in favour of two rookies.

Back in 2011, Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were kicked out after two years each at the team and replaced by Vergne and now Red Bull lead driver Daniel Ricciardo.

The decision then caused a negative reaction from fans but in the cut-throat world of Formula 1, and particularly the Red Bull program, good doesn't seem to cut it.

Of course Red Bull can look at the example of Ricciardo, a man who has put his firmly put his name down as a future champion, as their approach working, but now Buemi, still a reserve driver although seemingly on his way to Ferrari with Sebastian Vettel, was recently crowned WEC champion alongside Anthony Davidson in Bahrain, while Alguersuari became Pirelli test driver and is now back racing in Formula E.

What next for Vergne?

As for this latest double change, while Kvyat is certainly another talent for the future and will look to progress his career with Red Bull, Vergne rather became an afterthought despite being a very consistent driver.

His qualifying remained a key weakness but in the races he was often just as fast if not faster than Ricciardo.

That is why most believe it is a great shame that the 24-year-old will struggle to stay in F1 next year.

Indeed in his tweet today it seems he is already looking elsewhere with the WEC likely the number one alternative.

Toro Rosso making a mistake?

But where this decision to bring in two rookie drivers differs from the old one is the experience level.

Vergne had cut his teeth in Formula Renault 3.5 while Ricciardo had completed half a year's racing with former backmarkers HRT.

This time Max Verstappen makes the big leap up after just a year of single seater racing in Formula 3.

He has also had a few Friday practice appearances and the two-day test in Abu Dhabi, but still questions linger of how he will cope making such an immediate jump to F1.

That is why most believed it would have been a more sensible decision to give Verstappen a year alongside a more experienced driver like Vergne to help him learn the ropes.

Of course with Ricciardo and Kvyat, seats at Red Bull look taken for quite a few years to come, but even if Jev, as he became known, wasn't cutting the mustard for Marko and the other Red Bull bosses it would have still made more sense to put him in an advisory role for their next young star.

Now Toro Rosso will have two drivers with very little barometer for each other to match themselves with, sure Sainz Jr. has proven his skills in GP2 but heading into F1 is still a big step up and won't offer much assistance to his young team-mate.

Red Bull must support Verstappen

Not only then is another good young driver possibly set for a trip into the wilderness and unable to fulfil his full potential, but the confidence of another likely future star could be hurt too.

There's going to be a lot of attention on Toro Rosso at the start of next year when Verstappen makes his full race debut, lets hope Red Bull know what they are doing and are prepared to help him through will likely be one of the most scrutinised arrivals for a F1 driver in history.

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