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The First Time - with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne

23 Oct 2014

This year has been something of a rollercoaster ride for Jean-Eric Vergne, veering from a career-best qualifying in the season opener and a record points haul, to potentially losing his Toro Rosso drive at the end of the season.

As the F1 paddock catches its breath before the season's final three rounds, we take the chance to quiz the Frenchman on a few of the firsts in his life - including the first Grand Prix he watched, why F1 racing looked unreachable for most of his life, and how he won the first race he ever entered...

Who was your first hero when you were a child?

Jean-Eric Vergne: Definitely Michael Schumacher. I was growing up during his incredible winning streak.

What was the first Grand Prix you can remember watching?

JEV: It was Jacques Villeneuve against Michael Schumacher in Jerez in 1997. That is at least the first I remember very well, as it was so controversial.

How old were you when you first decided you wanted to be an F1 driver?

JEV: You cannot make such a decision - you can hardly even dream about it, as it always looks unreachable. When I was growing up Formula One was not even an option. You were karting, and if you were really good and found a sponsor you went into single-seaters. I only started to believe my chances when I got Red Bull's backing.

When was your first big accident in a race car?

JEV: I never had a big accident, but the last I can remember was with Michael [Schumacher] in Singapore, 2012, when he forgot to brake! (laughs)

What colour was your first helmet?

JEV: When I close my eyes I remember a lot of blue and yellow - and dinosaurs on the back. I was 10 years old.

When did you win your first trophy in racing and what did it look like?

JEV: I cannot remember what it looked like, but I was nine years old and it was the first race I had entered.

What was the first road car you drove?

JEV: I was seven and it was a Renault Scenic. It was on the karting track.

Where was the first house you lived in?

JEV: In Chantilly at my parents' home. I have very fond memories of that house.

How nervous were you on your first day of school?

JEV: I don't think that I was nervous. Why should I have been? I was convinced that the other kids didn't know more than me!

What was the first meal you ever cooked?

JEV: Always play it easy: pasta!

What was the first thing you did this morning?

JEV: Opened my eyes and switched off the alarm on my mobile.

What was the first thing you did after getting your first F1 seat?

JEV: I was immediately on the phone to my parents. At that moment it was not a huge surprise - deep down I was hoping that it would happen.

What was the first record you bought?

JEV: No idea at all.

What was the first sport you participated in as a kid?

JEV: Football. I played in a club, but I knew that it would not be my career. (laughs)

When was your first romantic kiss?

JEV: I don't remember, but it must have been in school.

When was the first time you were asked to sign an autograph for a fan?

JEV: It was in karting. It was kind of funny that another kid around my age asked for my signature...

When did you first taste champagne?

JEV: I was 10 years old, on the podium.

Which would you eat first - a piece of fruit or a piece of chocolate?

JEV: Chocolate, of course.

What was the first word you said as a baby?

JEV: Very likely the usual stuff: 'mama' or 'papa'. But they never told me.