Felipe Massa has conceded that if he wants to stay with Ferrari beyond the end of his current contract, his performance next season will be absolutely crucial.
"To do a good year will be very important," Massa told Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. "Crucial for my future of being in a competitive team, no doubt. And so my determination is greater than ever.
"I know that if I do not have a good 2012, everything can change. Everything follows according to the results," he added.
Massa denied that his recent dip in form at Ferrari was related to being the 'number two driver', and insisted that there was no difference in either the level of support he was getting from the Ferrari team or the quality of the car., or any hint that the team was favouring two-time world champion Fernando Alonso as its 'lead' driver.
"If you have an inferior car you can see it in the numbers, you cannot help it," said Massa, pointing out that the team has a policy of "100 percent" sharing of telemetry within the team and between drivers. "I have never had any different treatment ... The treatment and the equipment is the same."
While he wants to remain at Ferrari, Massa has no doubt that if that were not possible then he would go looking elsewhere in the F1 paddock.
"I go to another team! There is no other option," he told the O Estado de S. Paulo metropolitan newspaper. "I am not afraid of anything that can happen as I've always been a guy with his feet on the ground."
The 30-year-old Brazilian still has another year to run on his current contract with Ferrari, although that's not stopped a number of silly season rumours flying around over the last few months suggesting that Ferrari would let him go sooner than the end of 2012. But Massa is refusing to let such gossip get to him and is confident in his abilities.
"Regardless of having a good season, I believe I am among the best in F1," he told the paper - having made the point in qualifying in Korea which saw him narrowly outpace his illustrious team mate to take fifth place for Sunday's race, on a circuit where the Ferrari was visibly struggling to keep up with both McLaren and Red Bull.