Nick Heidfeld is confident that he will be on the Formula One grid in 2010, despite not having a new deal in place as he takes to the grid for the last time with the BMW Sauber team this weekend.
The German, who raced with Prost, Sauber, Jordan and Williams before returning to the Sauber fold under the guise of BMW's works team in 2006, was left high and dry by the Bavarian manufacturer's decision to can its F1 programme at the end of the season. While team-mate Robert Kubica wasn't short of offers for 2010, eventually turning down Toyota to take up team leader responsibilities at Renault, Heidfeld continues to search for a new employer.
He remains optimistic, however, and, with four new teams coming in to fill the void created by BMW's exit, has a number of discussions ongoing as the season reaches its climax in Abu Dhabi.
"There's still no more to report on than at the last couple of races," the German told the official F1 website, "Nothing has been signed yet and we're still talking to a couple of teams. I cannot say more than that.
"I'm pretty certain I will be here next year, but obviously this situation is special because of all the emotions involved. We've all been working together for quite a long time and have achieved a lot. To think that it is all over on Sunday is difficult to imagine. Thank God that until then there is a bit of work to do.
"I think everybody is able to differentiate that there is a job to do this weekend and that thinking about the future comes second, although I am sure that it is not easy to cope with a situation where the future is so wide open."
While not revealing who he is talking too - and both new and existing teams are rumoured to be on his list - Heidfeld also suggests that the BMW team could return to the grid under its new ownership next season. At present, the outfit would require the approval of its rivals to be granted the 14th spot in the field, but Heidfeld believes that it should be admitted.
"I think it's pretty certain that it's going to be BMW Sauber's last race, [but] I hope Sauber will be here next year," he admitted, "At the moment, it is not certain if they will have a slot on the grid. Hopefully they will, as you cannot really regard them as a new team.
"I think that they will serve F1 better than some of the new teams, in terms of how they would perform. They would be able to compete and that should in the end be more important than having a number of new teams in F1. I would say that it would be a huge pity if they don't make it to next year's grid."