Jean-Eric Vergne says it took him ‘at least’ three years to fully recover from the shock of being dropped by Red Bull in 2014.
Vergne had graduated to Formula 1 in 2012 with a full-time seat at Toro Rosso, but was dropped after three seasons and replaced by Max Verstappen, whilst Carlos Sainz took up the seat left by Daniil Kvyat, who was promoted to Red Bull.
Recalling that period in his life, Vergne admitted he arrived with the wrong attitude and was then left with little to his name when Red Bull dropped the axe.
“I arrived with Red Bull and the first year was very difficult. My head was very big, I thought I was going to beat everyone, I thought I was the king, but the first year was really tough on me,” Vergne said in Formula E Access All Areas video.
“People were seeing me as a negative person – never happy. Which I was actually. It took me too long to understand that I should be smiling. I think for three years I was not smiling. They thought here’s this typical French guy being moody.
“Then I received the call saying goodbye. It was very difficult. I remember it was like a bomb, all your dreams going away.
“When I left F1, I had no more cash, no more money. I was stupid with my money and I spent it all. I was not earning a lot of money. People think you are a Formula 1 driver, but it was not a lot. Yet I felt like I was a millionaire and I spent it all.”
Vergne immediately signed a deal with Andretti Autosport to race in Formula E’s debut season where he finished seventh in the standings with two podium finishes, but it took him years to overcome the shock of losing his F1 seat.
“It was a good time for me to reset everything in my life,” he added. “It took me at least three years to get back to normal, not normal life, but normal mentality.”
Vergne has since gone on to become Formula E’s first back-to-back champion, claiming the title in 2017/18 and 2018/19 with the DS Techeetah outfit.