Jean-Eric Vergne says he and Daniel Ricciardo are not friends due to competition
Ricciardo points out rivalry does not mean they are not enemies
By William Esler. Last Updated: 25/02/13 10:05pm
Jean-Eric Vergne says he and fellow Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo are no longer friends, as the youngster's battle for a spot with the senior Red Bull team.
The Austrian-firm's young driver programme has developed a reputation for being cutthroat - as demonstrated by the axing of Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari at the end of the 2011 season.
Both drivers know that if they fail to impress they too could follow their predecessors out of the Red Bull programme and with a potential vacancy alongside Sebastian Vettel, should Mark Webber retire, up for grabs, Vergne knows there is no room for niceties on the track.
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"I don't know if it's because we are in F1 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 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.
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"I don't care about going on holiday with my team-mate. I have my friends and I have enough of them and I don't need any more."
However, whilst there may be a healthy rivalry between the pair, Ricciardo was keen to point out that they are not enemies.
"We've never come to blows or anything like that," said the Australian.
"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 it's how it should be as well.
"I think when you're direct rival with someone, you want to have your own space. I think 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 about it.
"So I think it's good that we keep our distance. We're very competitive and that's how it should be."