Toro Rosso duo 'not friends' amid rivalry
26 February 2013 – Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Éric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo have admitted that they are no longer friends, with the duo in direct competition for a potential seat at Red Bull. Mark Webber, who holds a one-year contract with the World Champions, could free up a space if he decides to retire at the end of 2013 and both men want to be first in line.
Entering their second term as team-mates, Vergne and Ricciardo are determined to avoid the same fate as Sébastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari who were axed from Toro Rosso at the end of 2011, a situation which has resulted in an intense rivalry.
''I don't know if it's because we are in Formula 1 or he thinks he has definitely beaten me that we cannot have any relationship, but no, we don't see each other away from the track and we are not friends," Vergne, who outscored Ricciardo last season, told the Sydney Morning Herald. ''But to be absolutely honest, I don't mind. He's a good guy. We are both clever people.
''I have absolutely no problem with it because when it comes to the time when we need to work together to improve the car and to move the team forward, we can do this. We have a good working relationship. I don't care about going on holiday with my team-mate. I have my friends and I have enough of them."
Ricciardo added to Vergne's honest words, explaining that although the inter-team rivalry has been manageable to date, the pair are effectively fighting for one seat.
''We've never come to blows or anything like that,'' said Ricciardo, whose F1 debut came half a season earlier than Vergne. ''There's never been a moment which has separated the friendship - it's just grown apart with competition. I imagine we're probably like most other team-mates. We don't really talk away from the track. We're just doing our own thing.
"I think when you're a direct rival with someone, you want to have your own space. It would be sort of hard to have a true friendship because at the end of the day, we're fighting for maybe one spot and there can't be any conservative approach. I think it's good that we keep our distance. We're very competitive and that's how it should be.''