Rookie of the Year & Young Gun of the Year
23 December, 2012
Rookie of the Year: Jean Eric Vergne
Dec.23 (Grand Prix 247) There were only two real Formula One rookies on the grid this year – Jean Eric Vergne and fellow Frenchman Charles Pic, and the latter edged the former, in our ratings.
It was no walk in the park for the 22 year old who was fast tracked into the Toro Rosso team straight from Formula Renault 3.5, thus bypassing the traditional GP2 route. At first he was out of his depth, but as the season progressed he started to outshine his slightly more experienced teammate Daniel Ricciardo, and in the end out scored him 16 to 10.
Vergne summed up his season, “I had four eighth places during the year and scored 16 points. For my first year in F1, and given that we didn’t have the best car in the world, I don’t feel too bad about that record. For sure, it could have been better and I certainly expect better of myself next year, but all in all I’d mark it down as a successful first season.”
“Ultimately, I think this year was all about learning and the points are not the most significant thing. The important thing for me is that I think I have learned a hell of a lot about F1 this year,” concluded the Frenchman who stays with the team for 2013.
Subbed by AJN.
Young Gun of the Year: Nico Hulkenberg
Nico Hulkenberg returned to Formula 1 after a year on the sidelines and with Force India did enough to convince everyone that he is the real deal. Paired with highly rated Paul di Resta, Hulkenberg took a few races to adapt and was generally beaten by Di Resta for most of the early races.
By mid-season he started to get the upper hand in the team and towards the end of the year was clearly out performing his teammate and ended the season with 63 points to Di Resta’s haul of 46. As a Williams driver Hulkenberg impressed, as a Force India driver he must have made the big guns sit up and take notice. For now he moves to Ferrari powered Sauber for 2013 prompting speculation that the German’s future ultimately lies with the Maranello squad. Time will tell.
Hulkenberg said after his final race with Force India, “I think we can be proud of the results we achieved together. That’s why it was not an easy decision to leave, but I’m happy to be leaving with good memories. The task now is to end the year in style with a great result.”
He added, “It has been very positive. We had some good results in the first half too, but I think we found our consistency after the summer break. I think some of my best races were Japan and Korea where we didn’t necessarily expect to do so well. To score points there was very satisfying. Also, races such as Austin, where I was under so much pressure towards the end are the moments I will remember from the second part of the year. These were races where we maximised everything.”