Sebastien Bourdais has admitted that he has a point to prove in his second season of Formula One, and needs to score many more if he is to keep his place on the grid for a third term.
The Frenchman was overshadowed by mercurial team-mate Sebastian Vettel last year, but was clearly miffed not to have had his future secured until late February, with rumours of potential replacements being lined up prompting speculation that he may head back to the US open-wheel scene. Speaking to journalists at the launch of Scuderia Toro Rosso's 2009 challenger in Barcelona, Bourdais accepted that his rookie season performance may not have been good enough, but insisted that he deserved better than to be kept in a melting pot with Takuma Sato and others before being named alongside newcomer Sebastien Buemi.
''Each season is crucial until you prove yourself by achieving a certain position,'' he admitted, ''As I didn't have a fantastic first year - even though there were a few good moments - I now need to show that I deserve to have my place confirmed before February.''
Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost insists that a deal had been agreed to keep the Frenchman on board in January, and Bourdais was clearly keen to gloss over the subject and focus his attentions on the coming season, where he will lead a still inexperienced squad with the new STR4.
''If I only score four points this year, there will probably be no more [F1],'' he told a press conference, ''We have to be able to score more than that. We want to score as many points as possible - there are no limits.''
''Obviously, [the driver situation] has been very well discussed. We have had a very long winter, very difficult and complicated, but it is over now. I think it is the start of the [new] season and that is the past so, if we keep on going back to the past, we are never going to do anything in the future. We are not even a month away from the first race and it is the last test before that, so we should aim all the stuff toward Melbourne....''
Toro Rosso's challenger, despite being largely the same, appeared a full month after sister team Red Bull Racing unveiled its RB5 - which Vettel will pilot alongside Mark Webber in 2009 - and Bourdais knows that he and Buemi will have their work cut-out to hone the machine in time for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne in 19 days' time. However, the wily Frenchman is hoping that the revision of the F1 rulebook might yet play into the hands of the smaller teams.
''It's always true that, when you change regulations, everybody has their philosophy about designing cars,'' he noted, ''but some philosophies are right, some are not so right, and some are completely wrong.
''These days, designers and aerodynamicists seem to know what they have to do better than in the past, as there are a lot of computer models and technical tools to get it right, but there is still room to make mistakes - and even the big boys are not safe.