Jean-Eric Vergne says he does not feel like he is fighting for a seat at Red Bull Racing during his first Formula 1 season.
Vergne, who finished second in last year's Formula Renault 3.5 championship, has joined Australian Daniel Ricciardo at Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing's junior squad. Earlier this year, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said it would only be natural for his team to look at one of the Toro Rosso drivers if RBR were to replace one of its own.
"I think it is entirely logical that if you have a youth policy, and that youth policy is delivering real talent, and that talent is exciting talent as Sebastian Vettel has demonstrated, then it would make more sense to take a home grown driver rather than going externally," said Horner during the Australian GP.
Vergne, however, says he is entirely focused on doing the best possible job for Toro Rosso, and does not see his rivalry with Ricciardo as a fight for the Red Bull drive.
"Some people will tell you that we are in a fight for the Red Bull cockpit, but I don't see that right now," Vergne said. "I am racing for Toro Rosso and I want to help make the car a points contender. I have no interest finishing in P15 ahead of him [Ricciardo]. I'd rather finish in P4 behind him if that meant I had a quicker car. Did I just say finish behind him? No, I don't think that I would like this! (laughs) Only the part about fighting at the front is true. Forget about the rest."
Vergne, the British Formula 3 champion in 2010, has scored four points so far this year after finishing eighth in the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Frenchman said he had mixed feelings about his performance so far.
"Yes and no," he said when asked if he was satisfied with his showing to date. "Yes, because I think it's quite good, and no, because I think it could have been better."
"Of course I could use the excuse of being a rookie, but I don't want to because I've made some mistakes that should not have happened to a driver, no matter what your status. I actually don't believe so much in that rookie status thing. I am a fully fledged driver."