Dec.22 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Jean-Eric Vergne has defended Dr Helmut Marko after the Red Bull driver manager ousted Toro Rosso’s entire lineup for the 2012 season.

Rookie Frenchman Vergne as well as Daniel Ricciardo are the beneficiaries after team regulars Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi were axed.

“Surprised? Yes, but I had belief,” the 21-year-old told France’s Auto Hebdo.

“Toro Rosso’s policy is to develop young drivers. I think Jaime and Sebastien did a great job, but they were no longer a part of this policy.

“It is true that Helmut Marko is hard on his drivers, but I’ve always said that if I was him, I would do it exactly the same.

“I have always known that if I was not good enough, I would not be there,” added Vergne.

It is obvious the longer ambition for Vergne, whose friends call him ‘Jev’, is to replace Mark Webber at Red Bull’s senior team.

His father Jean-Marie told La Parisien: “Red Bull does not invest at random, but we are not thinking beyond next year.”