Ex-Red Bull F1 Junior Says Marko Broke Promise for Him to Replace Vettel in 2014

Published 10/27/2021, 1:00 PM EDT
SUZUKA, JAPAN – OCTOBER 02: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing talks with Dr Helmut Marko as he prepares to drive during practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)


Over the years, Red Bull nurtured some of the finest F1 talents in the sport’s modern history. While some, like Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, thrived in the sport, others didn’t quite get the opportunity to do so. One of those drivers was Jean-Éric Vergne, who raced for their sister team, Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) for three seasons.

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Although many drivers who race for Toro Rosso dream to join Red Bull, Vergne didn’t quite reach that level. However, during a recent interaction, the Frenchman admitted Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko thought he would replace Vettel after the 2014 season.

Red Bull junior Jean-Éric Vergne makes honest admission about his 2014 season

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Vergne joined Toro Rosso in 2012 as a bright prospect, with Daniel Ricciardo being his first F1 teammate. In 2014, the Frenchman produced excellent results for the team, where he had Daniil Kvyat as his teammate following Ricciardo’s move to Red Bull.

Midway through the season, the Austrian outfit announced Vergne wouldn’t continue in F1 beyond 2014 despite delivering strong results. Appearing on the Beyond the Grid podcast, the Frenchman admitted the timing of this announcement was both good and bad. He said, “It was nice actually for him to tell me so early in the season. But in the same time, it was probably the biggest problem.”

 

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At the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, news of Vettel joining Ferrari broke, which then spread like wildfire. While Vergne accepted Red Bull couldn’t go back on their word about him leaving, he recalled a conversation with Marko where they discussed the possibility of Vettel leaving.

“During this frank conversation with Helmut, I told him, ‘What if Vettel leaves?’ He told me, ‘Vettel is not going to leave.’ I said, ‘But, what if Vettel leaves?’ He said, ‘Well, then, you’ll be the next one to go to Red Bull.'”

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almost 2 years ago

Vergne: I wish Helmut waited till the last race

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Ultimately, Kvyat earned the Red Bull call-up in the 2015 season, while Max Verstappen joined Toro Rosso. Although team principal Franz Tost wanted him to stay, Vergne admitted Red Bull couldn’t go back on their word. However, he believed his performances in 2014 made him deserve the call-up more than Kvyat.

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – October 30, 2020 AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat during a press conference FIA/Handout via REUTERS

“That year was quite complicated. I wish Helmut would’ve done it the same way he did to many drivers, to wait until the last race of the season to tell them it’s off. Because if he would have waited, with the Grands Prix that I’ve done before Japan, I was in a much stronger situation than Kvyat to go to Red Bull Racing.”

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Following his exit from F1, Vergne found immense success in Formula E. He won the championship twice in a row, and finished third in the 2019-2020 season.

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Sanket Nair

876 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 & US Sports Author at EssentiallySports. He began following F1 since 2010, which made him an instant Sebastian Vettel fan. His favorite tracks on the calendar include Spa-Francorchamps, Monaco and Monza.

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