Newly-crowned Formula E champion and former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne says he has been contacted by an F1 team over a 2019 race seat.
Former Red Bull junior Vergne, who drove for the outfit’s junior team between 2012 and 2014, has not been on the grid since he was dropped at the end of that spell. He has found success away from F1, winning FE with Techeetah this year and claiming provisional victory in the LMP2 class at the Le Mans 24 Hours, only to see the win stripped from his team due to a technical infringement.
Talking about a return to F1 next year, Vergne told Crash.net: “It’s a possibility. It’s funny how the world of motorsport changes.
“When you change your state of mind, when you change a little bit how you work, you see the results straight away. You see it in the results, and you see it in how people look at you and how they speak to you. When you start representing a brand what you are, it changes a lot of things.
“Three years ago, I don’t think anybody would have called me from F1 and said: ‘Hey, do you have a contract for next season?’ So it’s great.”
Vergne’s F1 chances suffered a huge blow in late 2013 when Red Bull picked his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, to replace Mark Webber for the following season. Vergne lasted another season at Toro Rosso before being dropped at the end of 2014 — by contrast, in the years since Ricciardo has established himself as one of the sport’s biggest names, claiming seven grand prix victories in the process.
Despite the obvious question of what might have been, Vergne says he has no regrets about how his F1 career played out and insists he would consider a return.
“In my mind, I’m happy where I am. I’m not bitter. I see my ex-teammate, Daniel, winning races. I was in Monaco and I was so happy for him when he won. I could be bitter, saying: ‘I was beating this guy, I was close to him, and now he’s winning and he’s got this contract and this future.’
“I’m not bitter at all. I’m very happy with what I have. I think things happen for a reason. Who knows where he’s going to be in 10 years and where I’m going to be in 10 years? So no, I’m not disappointed any more. I learned from my mistakes, I learned from the bad things that happened, and I’m actually thankful for what happened to me.
“But now, if a good opportunity comes in Formula One, I would consider it.”
Ricciardo’s move to Renault has opened up a vacancy at Red Bull, which looks likely to be filled by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly following confirmation of Carlos Sainz’s move to McLaren. That in turn has opened up vacancies at the junior outfit, with Brendon Hartley’s future not secure and Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum currently without the superlicence points required to make the jump to F1.