Sep 6, 2013, 6:45 PM EDT
Jean-Eric Vergne has conceded that missing out on the Red Bull seat for 2014 came as a big blow, but he is pleased that the speculation has finally come to an end following Monday’s announcement that Daniel Ricciardo would be claiming the position.
After Mark Webber confirmed in June that he would be retiring at the end of the season, Vergne was initially shortlisted alongside Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen as a possible replacement for the Australian. However, Christian Horner confirmed a few weeks later that Vergne was no longer a consideration, and the Frenchman has admitted that this came as a great disappointment.
“Naturally, it’s a big disappointment for me personally,” Vergne explained. “It would be foolish to claim it isn’t and I don’t think anyone would really believe me if I did.
“However, I can honestly say I’m happy for Daniel. Not crazy happy obviously, but I’ve said previously that if he gets the seat it will be a good thing because it confirms the value of Red Bull’s Junior Team. It makes total sense.”
However, Vergne is adamant that there is very little to choose between himself and Ricciardo, conceding that his inferior qualifying form may have been decisive in Red Bull’s decision.
“The fact is, he has a bit more experience and he’s done a better job in qualifying. However, deep inside I know that we have always been really evenly matched and that’s the positive I take from it. I had more points than him last year, I have more points at the moment this year and I know in my heart that I can still do better, that I can improve.
“It makes me want to raise my game because I know that he didn’t beat me over the past season and a half and that, in reality, there is very little to choose between us in terms of ability.”
Vergne has been assured of his place at Toro Rosso despite missing out on the seat, although he will have to consider his future within the Red Bull setup following this setback.