The two seats at Hispania Racing are probably the most open in terms of who will fill them come the Bahrain Grand Prix that opens the 2011 F1 campaign next March, with no shortage of candidates despite the team's lowly status in its debut year.
HRT used no fewer than four drivers in 2010 - starting off with Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok, before also employing Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien - but it is entirely likely that the 2011 line-up could comprise none of the above, with three fresh faces having already joined the squad for testing in Abu Dhabi recently.
While Pastor Maldonado is already out of the picture, having signed to race alongside Rubens Barrichello at Williams, Davide Valsecchi appears to be a possibility having impressed in the short time he was given in the cockpit during the 'young driver' test in the UAE. The Italian, who shared seat time with GP2 rival Josef Kral during the test, emerged as the fastest HRT driver over the two days, and is reportedly in talks with the team about graduating to F1 in 2011.
, which claims that reigning GP2 Asia Series champion Valsecchi is in Germany to meet with team principal Colin Kolles, also claims that the former Midland, Spyker and Force India leader was 'surprised' and 'impressed' with the youngster's pace.
Among those also vying for a potential role with HRT is erstwhile Sauber driver Pedro de la Rosa, who saw his comeback campaign cut short when he was replaced by Nick Heidfeld ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, but the Spaniard admits that he still has a long way to go in finding the backing to secure one of the two available seats.
While Kolles has called on Italy to get behind Valsecchi - particularly with the country only having veteran Jarno Trulli and under-fire Tonio Liuzzi in the ranks in 2010 - de la Rosa has revealed that he is likely to face stiff opposition to his candidature, despite hoping that his Spanish nationality will count for something.
"Most of [the available seats in F1] are already reserved for drivers that come with a sponsor," the 39-year old told national sports newspaper Marca
, "That's my handicap, but I'm not giving up. I'm stubborn and I want to race. If, in the end, I have to be a reserve or test driver, I will, but first I will try everything [to land a race seat]."
Currently conducting Pirelli's testing programme ahead of the Italian firm's return to the top flight in 2011, de la Rosa's only option appears to lie with HRT, but team owner Jose Ramon Carabante has already admitted that 'without money, there is no place for him'. That could prompt de la Rosa to look elsewhere for his racing thrills, but he insists that no options - including the US-based IndyCar Series - are being explored just yet.
"I'm not considering that yet," he admitted, "It's interesting but, for now, I still think that I can be in F1."