Jean-Eric Vergne has said he has faith in Toro Rosso and while he has admitted it was 'tough' not to be selected to step up to Red Bull's 'A' team, he is adamant the Faenza squad is no 'back-up plan'.
Vergne was one of those touted as a possible replacement for the retiring Mark Webber earlier this year, however, in the end it was Daniel Ricciardo that got the nod.
“It has been really tough [this year]. Obviously there was the Red Bull seat opportunity. They went for Daniel. It was, of course, a big disappointment for me as a racing driver. You want to win races, be one day a world champion and obviously it's the team to be in to do this, to succeed. But, you know, I try to look at the positive,” he told journalists in Brazil when quizzed on 2013.
“I guess if Red Bull choose Daniel that means there are things I haven't done good. I have to look at myself in the mirror, try to understand the reasons and try to get better. The challenge with Toro Rosso next year will be massive.
"I'm really happy to stay in that team and everything is possible. Even staying in this team, it's not a back-up plan or whatever. I really believe in this team and I want to grow as a racing driver with this team that is growing a lot too.”
Pressed on if he found it difficult to stay focussed and keep his head held high after missing out on the seat alongside Sebastian Vettel, he replied: “For a few races it has been difficult because I think I was doing really good races. I was on a good run from Monaco and Canada and Silverstone was going to be really good as well but obviously I had the big tyre explosion and then there was the call of Red Bull to put Daniel in the Red Bull for the young driver test and straight away I understood that this seat was not going to be for me even though I tried to do my best.
"And then there were a couple of really difficult races in terms of pace, everything, so it was quite difficult to manage it, I guess.”
“[Overall] it has been a difficult [second] season [in F1],” continued Vergne, who has managed 13 points in total in 2013, his last top-ten coming in Canada, when was sixth. “I have to say that I've been quite unlucky in many races, not finishing when I should have been in the points. We had a really good car to start off the season with, but then I guess with the introduction of the new tyres, everything went a little bit more difficult for us and we were out of the points for a long time.”