Jean-Éric Vergne is a French racing driver who raced for three seasons in Formula One between 2012 and 2014, collecting 58 starts for Scuderia Toro Rosso before switching to Formula E Championship in 2014. Before entering F1, he was the French Formula Renault champion and the winner of the British Formula championship.
Racing from the age of four
Jean-Eric was born on April 25th, 1990, in Pontoise, France. He started competing in karting soon after he learned to walk, at the age of 4, due to the fact that his father was the owner of the kart racing circuit near Paris, so the young Jean-Eric spent lots of time there.
He officially entered his first competition at the age of 10 and became the 2001 French champion in the Minimes category. Step by step, he progressed through various French and international competitions, until he finished seventh in the 2006 World Championship.
Championship title in debuting season with cars
After that, it was time to switch to bigger racing machines and Jean-Eric entered the Formula Renault Campus championship. In his debuting season, he stormed the competition and took the title with six wins and ten podiums in 13 races. He was rewarded with Red Bull Junior Team membership.
Best rookie in the Formula Renault 2.0 competitions
In 2008, Vergne competed in both the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup. He was driving for SG Formula team and scored a total of four podiums in 29 races. As the best placed rookie driver in both series, he finished sixth in the Eurocup competition and fourth in the WEC competition. He also won the French FR 2.0 title, which was awarded to the best French driver in the WEC classification.
Vergne was a double runner-up in 2009
Vergne spent one more season with SG Formula in both Formula Renault competitions. He was one of the leading drivers, winning five of 28 races, finishing second behind Spaniard Albert Costa in both series.
Busy year in three different competitions
The season 2010 was the probably Vergne's busiest year in his career. He moved to the British Formula 3 Championship, but also competed in the GP3 Series, Formula Renault 3.5 Series and finally, at the end of the year, he participated in the official F1 testing for Scuderia Toro Rosso.
British Formula 3 champion in a dominant way
Driving the Volkswagen-powered Dallara F308 for Carlin, Vergne won the British F3 championship with 13 wins in 30 races. He took twelve victories in the first 24 races and secured the title with six races to go. At the end, he collected almost 100 points more than his teammate James Calado. Vergne also participated in two non-championship F3 events, finishing fourth at Masters of F3 and event at Macau Grand Prix.
In the 2010 GP3 Series season, Vergne participated in four races, driving for Tech 1 Racing in the opening round in Barcelona and later in Valencia. His best result was the fourth place in Valencia.
FR 3.5 Series victory at Silverstone
Vergne planned to compete with SG Formula in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, but the team withdrew from competition a week before the first race. He then turned his focus on the F3 campaign, but in July, it was announced that he would replace Brendon Hartley at Tech 1 Racing for the final three events of the FR 3.5 Series. In six races he reached four podiums, including the victory at Silverstone.
The first ride with a F1 car at Goodwood Festival of Speed
Vergne had the first opportunity to drive a Formula One car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July 2010, and it was the fantastic Red Bull RB1. In November 2010, he participated in the post-season official F1 test for young drivers at the Yas Marina Circuit. He was driving Toro Rosso STR5 and he set the seventh fastest lap time on Day 1 and the ninth fastest time on Day 2.
Wickens stole the FR 3.5 Series title
In 2011, Jean-Eric became the full-season driver for Carlin in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. He won at Monza in May, but had to wait for the confirmation of his victory because he was given a time penalty and demoted to third place. After an appeal, the penalty was overturned.
He scored four more wins and fought for the title against his teammate Robert Wickens. In the final race of the season, in Barcelona, they collided on the opening lap. Wickens retired immediately, Vergne retired later, so Wickens became the champion with nine points more than Vergne.
Fastest young driver at the Abu Dhabi test
Vergne made one step further to Formula One at the end of the season, participating in the free practice sessions for Scuderia Toro Rosso at three Grand Prix races - in Korea, Abu Dhabi, and Brazil. In November of 2011, Vergne tested the title-winning Red Bull RB7 at the young driver test in Abu Dhabi. He set the fastest lap times on all three days.
Video : 2012 United States Grand Prix practice with Jean-Eric Vergne
F1 debut at the 2012 Australian Grand Prix
It was the final proof that he deserves a place in the Formula One team and he debuted in the premium single-seater series in March 2012, at season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Vergne's teammate in Scuderia Toro Rosso was Daniel Ricciardo.
Two seasons in Toro Rosso alongside Daniel Ricciardo
They competed with the Ferrari-powered STR7 and Vergne outperformed the Australian teammate. Vergne collected 16 points and finished 17th in the final standings, one place ahead of Ricciardo. Vergne earned the points finishing four times in eighth place.
The two were again teammates in the 2013 season. This time, Ricciardo was better, finishing 14th with 20 points. Vergne collected 13 points and finished one place behind his teammate. Vergne improved his best result with 6th place at the Canadian Grand Prix, and this remains his career-best F1 result.
2014 and another sixth place
In 2014, Toro Rosso replaced the Ferrari engine with Renault. Daniel Ricciardo, who moved to Red Bull, was replaced by Daniil Kvyat. Jean-Eric was more successful than the Russian teammate and finished 13th in the championship standings with 22 points on his account. He equalized his best result with sixth place at Singapore Grand Prix.
Vergne became the Ferrari simulator man
In August 2014, it was announced that Kvyat would be joined in the Toro Rosso team by Max Verstappen for 2015, leaving Vergne without a seat. However, after Sebastian Vettel left Red Bull, Kvyat moved to the main squad, leaving a free seat for someone. After all negotiations and talks, Carlos Sainz Jr landed in the Toro Rosso team, while Vergne got a job inside Ferrari as a test and development driver, mainly focused on simulator work.
A switch to the electrified formula
While sitting in the simulator, Vergne wanted some real racing and he joined the Andretti Autosport in the inaugural season of the FIA Formula E Championship. Vergne debuted in the third round in Uruguay and immediately took pole position. He retired with a broken suspension two laps before the end of race, while fighting for victory against Sebastien Buemi.
Two podiums in the inaugural Formula E season
Vergne scored his first Formula E podium in Long Beach, finishing second behind the eventual champion Nelson Piquet Jr. With one more podium, the third place in London, Vergne finished seventh in the final standings.
For his second season (2015-2016) in the Formula E championship, Vergne joined DS Virgin Racing. Vergne scored his third podium in Formula E at the 2016 Paris e-Prix and one more podium in the season's finale at London's Battersea Park, to finish 9th in the final standings.
FIA WEC debut in 2017
For the third Formula E season (2016-2017), Vergne found a seat in another team, the China-based Techeetah. He also joined CEFC Manor TRS Racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, to drive Oreca 07 (Gibson) prototype in the LMP2 class.