Speaking to the Beyond the Grid podcast, Jean-Eric Vergne has recalled the time he learned he was going to be replaced by Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso, a move that effectively brought his F1 career to an end.
In the years since, Vergne has enjoyed the success of winning two Formula E titles but he surely would have liked to have extended his stay in Formula 1 had the opportunity arisen.
Indeed, speaking to the podcast, he recalls how he learned that he would be replaced by Verstappen at Toro Rosso and conversations with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, with the Frenchman also seeing the chance to move up to the Red Bull senior team get out of his grasp as Daniil Kvyat came in to replace the Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel:
“In the summer I was called and told that I would be replaced by a younger driver. I knew that was Max Verstappen.
“That’s just how the game works, there was no more room at Red Bull Racing. I hadn’t spoken to any other team because I belonged to the Red Bull family, that was maybe a mistake on my part.
“I was at Toro Rosso to go to Red Bull one day,” the Frenchman continued. “After three years, there was no place available and Helmut Marko told me it was over at the end of the year. I was happy that he told me so early in the season, but at the same time it was also my biggest problem that it was announced so early. After all, if Sebastian Vettel decided to go to Ferrari, it would have looked bad to then bring me to Red Bull.
“Right after that they announced Daniil Kvyat, without having spoken to me about it,” Vergne says.
“There was another promising young talent in the form of Carlos Sainz, who they put in Kvyat’s place when he went to Red Bull. That was a bit complicated for me. I wish Helmut had handled it the way he usually does and waited until the last race of the season, because by then I was in a better position than Kvyat.”