Toro Rosso Jean-Eric Vergne
Driver: Car No. 18
Birthplace: Pontoise, France
When Jean-Eric's dad first took him karting at age four, it started a lifelong love of the sport that has ended up taking the young Frenchman all the way to F1. In karting, he was French Rotax Max runner-up, second in the European ICA championship and seventh in the world championship, which brought him to the attention of the FFSA (France's motor sport governing body.) With their backing he moved into single-seaters winning the French Formula Campus championship in 2007.
Coming under Red Bull's wing, Jean-Eric won rookie honours in both the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the West European Cup (WEC) in 2008, finishing on the podium four times. He was back for more in both Formulae in 2009 finishing on the top step in Eurocup four times and winning five in the WEC, to finish runner-up overall. For 2010, he moved into the British Formula 3 Championship and just like his 2012 team-mate, he took the title. In 2011, he followed up taking the silver medal position in the Renault 3.5 championship by running in Friday's Free Practice 1 at three of the last four Grands Prix of the Formula 1 season. And those three practice sessions were enough to secure him the ultimate prize – a full time drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso for 2012. "Jev," as he is known was thrilled and amazed, but definitely not over-awed. Self-confidence is one of the Frenchman's main attributes and the rookie duly delivered early on in 2012, finishing in the points in just his second race, in Malaysia. The year was very much a learning curve, as he encountered new circuits most weekends and learned the Formula 1 ropes. "Going into this season is a completely different experience to this time last year, when I had to deal with a lot of unknowns," says the Frenchman. "This year, I will still be learning – you never stop learning – but the basics are there and I will be able to focus on more important aspects of the job."