Nov.23 (GMM/ A friend and mentor of 2012 hopeful Jean-Eric Vergne has denied the Frenchman claims he is a better option for Red Bull than Mark Webber.

21-year-old Vergne, the latest cream of Red Bull’s driver development programme, posted laptimes comparable to Australian Webber’s during the grand prix weekend when he tested in Abu Dhabi last week.

He was subsequently quoted in a French language column: “I think if I was put in the Red Bull, I would do no worse than Webber. That’s my impression, anyway, after these tests.”

Many criticised those comments as being arrogant as well as showing a lack of respect for race winner Webber, who is already signed up as Sebastian Vettel’s teammate for next season.

Vergne’s mentor Renaud Derlot, who has been involved with Vergne’s career for the past seven years, told commentator Jean-Louis Moncet’s Auto Plus blog: “I can tell you that how the journalist quoted Jean-Eric is wrong.

“I record everything he (Vergne) says and I was the only one to do it that day because the journalist did not.

“I spoke with the journalist last night and he apologised not only to me but also to Jean-Eric,” added Derlot.