Former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne believes he is in with a good chance of making a return to Formula 1 in 2016 with the new Haas F1 Team, but insists Formula E is his priority – for now.
Vergne raced for three years at Toro Rosso, but raced in the FIA Formula E championship during the 2014-15 season, taking three pole positions and two podium finishes for Andretti Autosport, and has been confirmed for the 2015-16 season with DS Virgin Racing.
But the Frenchman believes he is still in with a shot at the Haas drive, and believes he is one of three drivers in the running alongside fellow Scuderia Ferrari test driver Esteban Gutierrez and current Sahara Force India star and 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nico Hulkenberg.
“There are three of us, for two seats,” said Vergne to Motorsport.com. “Let’s say there is a rather good chance for me to end up with Haas. Then, as far as Formula E is concerned, that’s too early to talk about it.
“If F1 comes, there will be two clashes. It’s way too early to say how that will go. I hope to have that kind of problem to sort out; that would be a good one to have!
“But today, I am focused on Formula E, and very much as well on my work with Ferrari, which of course pays off to land in the Haas team.”
Vergne believes his time this year as part of the Ferrari set-up as well as his three-year spell with Toro Rosso where he performed strongly compared to his former team-mate Daniel Ricciardo will work favourably for him.
“I think this is an advantage,” added Vergne. “Also, because I have worked with a very big team at Red Bull, at a time they were winning absolutely everything. I was a reserve driver and a simulator driver. I learnt a huge lot with them.
“Then came three years with Toro Rosso, where I proved a lot behind the steering wheel. I can’t ignore my performances compared to Ricciardo: I beat him in year one. Year two, it was really tight, and today he wins Grand Prix.
“At Ferrari, I keep learning about a new philosophy, in the biggest team of all time! That’s a new work philosophy and I keep on learning a lot about the car’s technicalities.
“Of course, that plays an important role when it comes to Haas. Getting out of the F1 grid but staying in such a team as Ferrari and working all weekends on the simulator – knowing all the set-up changes, everything that goes on and following it first hand from the factory… plus I’m racing – that sure doesn’t take anything away!”