Perhaps encouraged by Pastor Maldonado's breakthrough for 2011, GP2 Series veteran Luca Filippi insists that he is still looking for a role in F1 to go hand-in-hand with his recently-announced AutoGP deal.
Maldonado finally maded it into the top flight after winning the GP2 title at the fourth attempt, and Filippi - who has more starts that anyone in the feeder series - is hoping that he can land one of the few remaining positions, even if it means fulfilling a testing role with one of the weaker teams.
The Italian got one foot in the F1 door in 2005 and 2007, when he was tried out as test driver, first with Minardi and then for both the Honda works and Super Aguri satellite teams, but failed to secure a permanent position. He now has five seasons of GP2 under his belt, and was linked to the Villeneuve-Durango team over the summer, but revealed his undimmed F1 ambitions while confirming that the burgeoning AutoGP series would be his focus for 2011.
"I'm seriously working to find a place in F1, no matter if it's as a test driver," Filippi admitted, "I already did that for Honda F1 in 2008, and I think that with what I've shown throughout my career I should be linked to an F1 team today.
"You know, last year - after finishing second in GP2 Asia - an F1 deal seemed really close for me, so I don't feel that I can already call it quits. But I must also be realistic and, to be fair, I can't see that happening at the moment. Too many things have to fall in place."
The 25-year old will not be missing from action in 2011 if he fails to land an F1 role, having already agreed to return to the AutoGP Series that he dovetailed with his GP2 commitments this season.
He finished fifth in the standings despite missing the round at Magny-Cours due to a clash with GP2, and took a brace of race wins to confirm himself as a likely frontrunner next year.
"What I can say is that, if [my future] won't be F1, then it will be Auto GP," Filippi confirmed, "I already have advanced talks with one of the teams, and we are very close to an agreement.”
And, after his success in 2010, the Italian is confident that he can again be a challenger.
“I can't really said that I lost the championship due to missing Magny-Cours, because [eventual champion Romain] Grosjean won the title [despite] missing two rounds!" he admitted.
"Romain did an incredible job but, in Spa, I clearly showed that I was the only driver that could match his pace so, in a normal season, I think it would have been pretty close until the end. But then I had the call from SuperNova in GP2, and that meant missing one event and then switching team for the rest of the Auto GP season.
“Obviously, I race to win and I know that I can be very quick in the AutoGP Lola, but mainly I want to race in AutoGP because I really loved the series in 2010. What I've seen is a car that is bloody quick, consistent and, at the same time, very fun to drive, with absolutely equal engine performances from car to car, [which is] something that I think isn't guaranteed everywhere nowadays. I love the balance of the car, I know how to tame it and I enjoy it a lot. Add to that the prize money, and you can't ask for more.”
Except, maybe, that elusive F1 role....