Jean-Eric Vergne has used Twitter to reveal that he won’t be driving for Toro Rosso next year.
Red Bull’s Helmut Marko told this writer in Abu Dhabi that an announcement would come next week, so clearly Vergne has decided to or been allowed to pre-empt that.
Once source told this writer than Vergne has known since August – in effect when Max Verstappen entered the picture – that he would be out. It’s understood that team principal Franz Tost was keen to retain him in order to have one experienced driver in the line-up, but the decision was made by Red Bull.
The Frenchman said: “Despite a good season & 22 pts, I’ll not drive anymore for Toro Rosso in 2015. Thanks for those years. Let’s go for another big challenge.”
Confirmation of his departure obviously leaves the door open for Carlos Sainz Jr, who drove for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi yesterday. GP3 champion Alex Lynn, who tested for Lotus today, could be the logical choice as third driver for STR/RBR.
Not surprisingly Red Bull has changed its plans for the Silverstone Young Driver test, and the team will now be giving both race drivers and Daniel Ricciardo some miles in the RB9.
Ricciardo’s inclusion is clear evidence that the Aussie is on the cusp of landing a 2014 race seat, with Kimi Raikkonen as his obvious rival for the job.
Red Bull’s ambitious run plan sees it split each day in half as it tries to squeeze in mileage for five different drivers. The schedule is as follows:
Day 1: António Félix da Costa/Daniel Ricciardo
Day 2: António Félix da Costa/Mark Webber
Day 3: Carlos Sainz Jr/Sebastian Vettel
The team points out that “Antonio’s test with Infiniti Red Bull Racing fulfils the team’s commitment to grant the mid-season leader of the World Series by Renault a full day’s test in the RB9.”
Meanwhile Toro Rosso will be equally busy at it too runs five different drivers over the three days:
Day 1: Johnny Cecotto Jr/Johnny Cecotto Jr
Day 2: Carlos Sainz Jr/Daniel Ricciardo
Day 3: Jean-Eric Vergne/Daniil Kvyat