Daniel Ricciardo’s mid-season appointment to the HRT F1 team left Toro Rosso with a vacancy in its reserve driver ranks, but the Italian team has today announced that Jean–Éric Vergne will be piloting the STR6 in the first Friday practice session of the Korean, Abu Dhabi and Brazilian Grands Prix.
Vergne finished runner-up last weekend to Robert Wickens in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship standings. He will become the first French driver at a Grand Prix since his countryman Romain Grosjean had his final outing with Renault in 2009.
Vergne has risen through the ranks of the Red Bull Junior Driver academy, winning last year’s British Formula 3 title, which he won with six races left in the season. His success saw him propelled to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series mid-year, and he incredibly finished eighth in the standings, claiming one win and three further podiums in his six races with the team.
It will not be Vergne’s first outing in a Formula 1 car. He first sampled F1 machinery at the 2010 Goodwood Festival of Speed, driving a Red Bull RB5. He later drove for Toro Rosso on both days of last year’s ‘Young Driver’ test session at Abu Dhabi.
Vergne will take over Jaime Alguersuari’s car at Korean, before he missed out on India (to give both main drivers ample track time on the new circuit) and returns to the fray at Abu Dhabi in Sébastien Buemi’s car.
His final practice outing will come at the season-ending round at Brazil, where he will take over the cockpit of which ever Toro Rosso driver has the fewer championship points.
[Images via LAT]