F1 rookie Jean-Eric Vergne has promised that he will be trying to keep relations cordial with new Scuderia Toro Rosso team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, despite the pair being aware that they could be competing for a seat at Red Bull Racing.
Having been tipped for a back-up role in 2012, Vergne was a surprise inclusion in the STR line-up, but has already given observers cause to claim that he could yet be the better prospect after all but matching Ricciardo in the initial pre-season test at Jerez last week. With Red Bull brand magnate Dietrich Mateschitz admitting that his goal is to see one of the company's motorsport prospects graduating to partner Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull Racing in the next couple of years, any degree of competition has the potential to destabilise Toro Rosso, but Vergne insists that he will be doing his best to avoid confrontation.
"There is competition with my team-mate but, at the same time, we can't [let it] go in the wrong direction," the Frenchman told RMC Radio
, "You always want to beat everybody, but my team-mate is also the only other person who is working on the very same car as me.
"However, there was not too much tension [at Jerez]. You have to forget about all those different aspects when you think about the work you need to do. We had four good days of testing, and the engineers are working now for the next test in Barcelona at the end of the month."
With tension in the RBR camp amid claims of favouritism towards Vettel, Red Bull already knows how destabilising unrest can be. And, after the new STR7 showed promise in testing, it could be that Vergne and Ricciardo are battling over more than just their future prospects. They were separated by just a hundredth of a second in testing, but know just how thin the tightrope can be for a Red Bull protégé, as their predecessors at STR, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, discovered to their cost in December.