I WANT KIMI'S SEAT: Ferrari test driver Jean-Eric Vergne has his eyes set on Kimi Raikkonen's seat for 2016. Image: AFP / Tom Gandolfini
ROME, Italy - Jean-Eric Vergne has admitted he has his sights on Kimi Raikkonen's 2016 Ferrari race seat.
The Frenchman, groomed by Red Bull, was dropped by the energy drink company's second team Toro Rosso at the end of 2014 but rescued his F1 career with a test-driving role at the sport's grander team, Ferrari, although the top reserve seat was already filled by the heavily Mexican-backed Esteban Gutierrez.
"Honestly," Vergne told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, "I prefer working on the simulator doing something useful to being the reserve. Today the role of a third driver is to be at the track without doing anything special. Not being able to help the team would be frustrating so I feelmine is an important task.”
'I GAVE MY BEST'
Vergne insisted he had "no disappointment" over being dropped by Red Bull as his new challenge at Ferrari awaited and he headed to Maranello to visit the factory for the first time.
It has been suggested Finn Raikkonen could vacate his Ferrari race seat at the end of 2016.
"I know I gave my best and that's why I have no regrets," said Vergne, referring to his lost Toro Rosso seat. "Now I'm at Ferrari, also a great opportunity for 2016. If I were not able to race this year I think what I have is better than being at Caterham or Marussia and always being last."
He admitted that the arrival at Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, the highest profile Red Bull-groomed F1 driver, might have helped him secure the job in red.
"I've known him since I worked on the Red Bull simulator when I was in F3," Vergne said. "I've always had a great relationship with him, as I do with Kimi.
"Surely the fact that he (Vettel) went to Ferrari did help but I also know that my name was mentioned by others - I talked a lot with Ferrari's sport director Massimo Rivola, for example."Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.