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Tost: Vergne, Kwjat and Buemi could have achieved more in Formula 1

In 18 years as team principal, Franz Tost has worked with many subsequent Grand Prix winners and even world champions – but not everyone made the Formula 1 breakthrough

Franz Tost sat on the pit wall at AlphaTauri for the last time at the Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi. Having previously been Team Principal of the Faenza-based racing team since 2006, the last Formula 1 race of 2023 marked the end of an era

During his time at Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri, Tost worked with the two later world champions Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen and with the current Grand Prix winners Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly, among others.

However, there were also many drivers who did not go on to have a great career in Formula 1 after their time in Faenza. When asked which ex-driver he would have expected to achieve significantly greater success in the premier class, Tost answers: “Jean-Eric Vergne.”

“I think he could have had a successful career in Formula 1,” said the Austrian. Vergne drove for the then Toro Rosso team for three seasons from 2012 to 2014. In his final year, he scored 22 championship points for the team and finished 13th in the championship.

Although team-mate Daniil Kwjat only scored eight points, Red Bull promoted the Russian to the A team in 2015, while there was no more room for Vergne after three years. However, Kwjat did not go on to have a great career for the Bulls either

Tost: Most of the drivers were really good!

“Both were very, very fast,” recalls Tost. But Kwjat was demoted by Red Bull after just over a season and sent back to Tost and later released completely before driving for the Faenza-based team for another two years in 2019 and 2020.

Tost would also have expected him to achieve significantly more than “just” three podium finishes in Formula 1. “And Sebastien Buemi also performed well at times. He also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans [later],” says Tost, citing a third example.

Buemi also drove for Toro Rosso for three years from 2009 to 2011, but then also had to leave. He later became Formula E champion and four-time endurance world champion, while Vergne became Formula E champion twice after his time in Formula 1.

Tost emphasizes: “They had really great skills. They were then sorted out because another driver came along and we simply don’t have that many places, neither at Red Bull Racing nor at Scuderia Toro Rosso [or] Scuderia AlphaTauri.”

“But in terms of ability, almost all the drivers have reached a very high level,” emphasizes Tost. Other former protégés of the Austrian include Formula E champion Nyck de Vries, endurance world champion Brendon Hartley and Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais.

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