Jean-Eric Vergne believes that Mark Webber
was persuaded to call time on his F1 career by repeatedly having to watch Red Bull
Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel
walk off with race wins and world titles.
Although the Australian – who heads to Porsche's nascent World Endurance Championship effort in 2014 – held his own in F1, winning races and challenging for the world title, he was unable to replicate the success enjoyed by his younger team-mate who, having been promoted from the Toro Rossso squad as a racewinner in 2009, enjoyed the best RBR had to offer as he hoovered up 38 victories and four world titles in a five-year partnership, while Webber visited the top step of the podium just eight times in the same spell, with a best championship finish of third in 2010, '11 and '13.
"I don't think he got tired of [F1]," Vergne told Spain's El Confidencial
, "He got tired of his team-mate winning all the time - and another year of the same made no sense to him.
"He would not even be happy if his team continued to win everything. You might have the same car, but you would get tired of being beaten every weekend by your team-mate even when you are on the podium.
"I think Mark is a very good driver and a true competitor, but things were not going as he wanted. The goal is to win, not finish on the podium.”
With Webber gone, Vettel will be partnered next season by Daniel Ricciardo, a driver Vergne knows very well having been his team-mate at Toro Rosso
for the past two seasons. Asked if he felt that the Australian could cause the world champion problems, the Frenchman replied 'I hope so', knowing that his own performances compared favourably to Ricciardo's.
Initially disappointed at having been passed over by RBR in favour of his team-mate, Vergne is now focused on bringing Toro Rosso
back into contention for regular points finishes.
“Toro Rosso now belongs to the mid-table teams and wants to be above that,” he claimed, “The idea is to fight with teams like Lotus or McLaren, as has been done this year. They want to be in the top five and are working very hard for it.
“The philosophy has changed and we have a young man [Daniil Kvyat] in the line-up this year. I think Toro Rosso
is a good place to be and I would not change unless it was for one of the greats.”