Vergne recalls 'robot' regiment imposed by Red Bull and the 'bomb' of his exit

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Jean-Eric Vergne has reflected on his time in the Red Bull program and how he felt like a "robot" during his time at Toro Rosso.

Last week, team advisor and the headmaster of the Red Bull program, Helmut Marko, admitted pride at seeing the Frenchman enjoy success with two consecutive Formula E championships but also ruled him out of a future F1 return.

However, Vergne certainly has little interest in going back even if the opportunity was there based on how Red Bull treated their drivers.

"They constantly told me ‘Eat this, sleep at this time, play sports this much, say this, smile there, don’t joke’," he said of the strict regiment put upon him to L'Equipe.

“It reminded me of being a robot. So when you get into the car, you are no longer happy about it, you don’t feel like yourself.

"I like to have fun, I like what I do, why should I behave differently if I don’t want to? But I am of course proud that I got to Formula 1."

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Vergne's stint at the junior team lasted three years between 2012-2014 during which he saw teammate Daniel Ricciardo get the nod to replace Mark Webber at the senior outfit.

And looking back, he admits his approach was wrong.

“I felt my status, I thought that I was the king, that I could handle everyone," he claimed.

"But people thought that I was too full of negativity because I never smiled and that was true. It took me a while to realise that you need to smile."

With Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen waiting to step up, Vergne was eventually dropped and spoke of the impact that news had on him.

“I was told during the summer break when I was with my family. It was like a bomb, all my dreams were shattered," he said.

“When I left Formula 1, I ran out of money. I was stupid and didn’t make a lot of money at Red Bull.

"People think that Formula 1 is full of money, and I also considered myself a millionaire, so I quickly spent everything. It took me two years to recover,” he revealed.