Apr.2 Toro Rosso rookie Jean-Eric Vergne looks back on his first two grand prix weekends – in Australia and Malaysia – where he enjoyed his first experience as a full time F1 race driver. The Frenchman reflects on the first two races of his F1 career.
“I’ve spent quite a lot of time imagining what it would be like going into a weekend as an F1 driver. At the end of last season I took part in the Friday morning sessions but beginning the season in a race seat would inevitably be…different. I was expecting it to be fantastic, basically twice as intense as anything that I’d experienced before in racing.
Because I’d been thinking like that for a while, once I actually got to do it everything actually seemed quite normal. Racing, qualifying, working in the garage, none of it seemed strange. I wonder if that’s a good thing? I think it probably is – certainly if things seem normal then it helps you stay calm and focused.
We’ve done two races now and scored some points. I think what we come away with from those first two flyaways is a belief that the car is good. As the season goes on everyone will have a programme of development but it’s good to have a solid basis on which to work. I’m confident we can have more good results and get even stronger.
The Malaysian Grand Prix was tough at the start but as the race went on it got easier. At the beginning the rain made it really, really hard, especially as we opted to stay out on the intermediates instead of going to the full wet tyres. It proved to be the right decision as the red flag came out, as we thought it would, but it was really difficult in the laps before that. I was struggling to keep up with the pack as it followed the safety car – it was so wet I had oversteer on the straights when I was just trying to drive in a straight line.
After the restart things were OK. I think maybe I could have pitted for dry tyres a little earlier but on the whole to start 18th and finish eighth is a good day. Getting my first points in F1 feels great. I’m eager to go to Shanghai and have another go. I think I’ve made a couple of mistakes in the first two races, so I’m keen to get to China and be stronger.
But, before that, lots of other stuff. Today I was in the simulator. Obviously there’s preparation to do for the next two races, which again are back to back, but there’s also a lot to learn from Albert Park and Sepang, and so in between getting back from Malaysia and flying out to China I’ll be hitting the simulator pretty hard. I’ll also spend plenty of time speaking with Andrea, my engineer.
I’m back in Paris now. Tomorrow I have to do some media with TF1 but apart from that I’ll do lots of work with my trainer and also do some karting at my parents’ place in my 125 gearbox kart. In terms of size I’m still just about OK for karting. It was tough for me when I was competing because I was generally a little bit too tall – but it’s OK if I’m just out there to enjoy myself.”