F1 Silly season begins in earnest

How did that happen; Vergne out for Verstappen

Jean-Eric Vergne is to be replaced by 16-year-old Dutch driver Max Verstappen, it was announced yesterday by Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost.

Toro Rosso is Red Bull’s breeding ground for young talent, and has a tendency to re-fresh its driver line-up every few years. Some, like Vettel and Ricciardo, move on to pastures new. Others, such as Liuzzi, Klien, Bourdais, Alguersuari and Buemi don’t make the grade, and are swapped out in search of the next young talent.

Verstappen is the son of former Arrows and Minardi driver Jos Verstappen, who last raced in F1 in 2003. Verstappen Senior’s first drive in F1 was 20 years ago with Benetton, where he enjoyed a couple of podium finishes while he was Michael Schumacher’s team mate, although he is probably most well-remembered for a huge fire in 1994 at a pit stop during the German Grand Prix.

Jean-Eric_Vergne_2012_Malaysia_FP2
Vergne has been a Toro Rosso driver since the Young Driver test in Abu Dhabi, 2011.

Tost cited Vergne’s poor reliability as one of the factors for his swapping, although that is not something the Frenchman is in control of.

The change will take effect for start of 2015, by which time the Dutchman will be 17. His team mate (if all remains the same) Daniil Kvyat will be 20, making them the youngest pairing in F1 history.

Lotterer hits the the jackpot

Andre Lotterer has been announced as Kamui Kobayashi’s replacement for the Belgian Grand Prix. Caterham made the announcement on Wednesday and said:

“The team will benefit from having another experienced driver at the wheel of the car throughout the weekend and the German’s feedback will contribute to improve the performance of the car”

Lotterer’s F1 career nearly blossomed in 2002 when he briefly tested for Jaguar racing. However, he then moved on to endurance racing, where he really made his name, culminating in winning the Le Mans 24 hour race three times.

Alex Rossi displaces Chilton – but not for long

On Thursday, August 21, it was announced that Max Chilton would be replaced by test driver Alex Rossi for the weekend of the Belgian Grand Prix due to ‘contractual issues’. However, after partaking in FP1 at the event, Marussia then swung the decision back around, and decided that Chilton was indeed fit to drive their car. The dispute was largely due to money, and the team felt they would be in a better economic state if they allowed Rossi to race rather than Chilton.

It marks a second u-turn for the team in as many years. At the start of 2013, they announced Luis Razia as their second driver, only to throw away his contract and replace him with current driver Jules Bianchi.

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