Jean-Eric Vergne has been left alone to keep his motor racing career on track.
After three seasons with the secondary team Toro Rosso, the Frenchman was overlooked by Red Bull last year when his teammate Daniel Ricciardo got the call to replace retiring Mark Webber.
Less than a year older than 24-year-old Vergne, Australian Ricciardo has humbled quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel in 2014.
And in stark contrast, Vergne has been left without a seat at all for 2015, as Toro Rosso looks to the future with the ultra-young lineup of Daniil Kvyat and teen Max Verstappen.
“They (Red Bull) have a young driver programme that they need to promote,” said Vergne in Singapore. “That’s how it is,” he told F1’s official website.
But when Kvyat swept in from GP3 for 2014, Toro Rosso hopeful Antonio Felix da Costa nonetheless remained under Red Bull’s wing and was placed with BMW in the DTM series.
Similarly, with Verstappen now set to debut, Renault World Series leader Carlos Sainz is still being looked after by Red Bull.
Not Vergne. At approaching 25, he has been deemed ‘too old’ for Red Bull.
“Funny, isn’t it?” he said. “Now it becomes clear that we don’t need all these other series before breaking into F1 — now we know that you can jump almost immediately from go-karting to F1.
“And you better start go-karting before six years of age,” Vergne added.
If Vergne sounds slightly doleful, it might be because he is being dropped by Red Bull altogether.
“True,” he confirmed. “I have no management right now. I am alone right now to sort out my options.
“I know I probably should get somebody, but right now 99 per cent I am on my own. That’s how it is.”
Over the last few races of the 2014 season, then, Vergne will not only have to race his Toro Rosso, but also trudge up and down the paddock to see if there is a seat elsewhere for next season.
“These are things that I do, but I don’t want to talk about it,” he confirmed.
“But there is no help from Red Bull. My paramount focus right now is to finish the season on a high.” (GMM)