Once good friends, the Toro Rosso pair recently admitted the fire of their rivalry had driven them apart.
“No, we don’t see each other away from the track and we are not friends,” Vergne, 22, confirmed last month.
There is a lot at stake. Mark Webber’s Red Bull contract runs out at the end of the year, but history has proved that almost no Toro Rosso juniors have gone on to succeed at the senior team.
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said this week: “Vergne needs to show that he is able to stand out; to be like Alonso or Vettel.
“Being a Webber is not enough.”
It is for that reason that Ricciardo, 23, admitted in Australia on Tuesday that 2013 is an important season for his career.
“Yes, it is,” he is quoted by WA Today.
“I think the best thing I can do this year is obviously try to beat the Frenchman convincingly and if it sets me up for a seat at Red Bull or elsewhere, I think that’s just what I have to try to target.”