Jean-Eric Vergne joins Ferrari as development driver

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Jean-Eric Vergne
Vergne finished 13th in this season's drivers' championship, with 22 points

Ferrari have hired former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne to work on car development in their simulator.

The Frenchman was dropped by the Red Bull junior team last month and had been looking for a new role in F1.

He replaces Spaniard Pedro De La Rosa, who has left Ferrari after two years with the Italian team.

Vergne, 24, said joining Ferrari was an "honour" and a "dream" and that he was committed to "helping the Scuderia get back to the top step of the podium".

His employment is the latest move in a fundamental restructuring of Ferrari in the last few weeks, including the sacking of several senior personnel.

This week, Ferrari have announced the departures of their former engineering director Pat Fry, chief designer Nikolas Tombazis and tyre analyst Hirohide Hamashima.

Jean-Eric Vergne
Vergne has raced in 58 grands prix

They lost their lead driver Fernando Alonso, who negotiated an exit from his contract to join McLaren, and replaced him with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

And immediately after the end of the season team principal Marco Mattiacci was sacked after only seven months in the job.

The hiring of Vergne and departure of De La Rosa by new team principal Maurizio Arrivabene is a shift away from the Alonso era - De La Rosa is close to his countryman.

However, fellow Spaniard Marc Gene remains as a test driver, alongside Italian Davide Rigon.

Last week Ferrari signed Mexican former Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez as their reserve driver, and the next day announced a major sponsorship package from the 23-year-old's home country.

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