Jaime Alguersuari is confident that he will back on the F1 grid next season, despite having had to take a backseat role in 2012 after his late release from the Toro Rosso line-up.
The Spaniard claims to have had an alternative offer on the table which he passed up as he was sure he was staying at Faenza for the coming year, only for the axe to fall on both himself and team-mate Sebastien Buemi just days before Christmas - by which time his other offer, allegedly from the Lotus team, had disappeared.
Since then, the former British F3 champion has accepted an opportunity to join the BBC
's radio commentary team and been snapped up by Pirelli to complement another F1 refugee, Lucas di Grassi, but always insisted that either role had the potential to keep him on the radar of the twelve teams in the top flight.
“The first day of being in the paddock with a microphone was terrible, a tough moment,” he told Spain's Mundo Deportivo
newspaper, “I had only ever seen it from the other side in the past - but it was not the wrong choice [as] I have met more people in the paddock than I did over the previous two-and-a-half years, and that is very important.
"I can now enter any team garage without a problem, they all welcome me. When I was part of Red Bull as a driver, I lived in a bubble, and had never spoken with Martin Whitmarsh or the people from Lotus; so being a commentator has opened doors.”
Once touted as the natural successor to Fernando Alonso after his rapid rise through the racing ranks saw his debut as the youngest F1 driver on record, Alguersuari's dismissal by STR could have left him on the scrapheap and scratching around for rides in either sports or touring cars. However, with the additional contacts he has made this season, the youngster - Alguersuari is still only 22 - is optimistic that he can find a full-time ride for 2013.
"With all due respect, if I had just gone to any team, my career would be dead and with no more options apart from DTM and touring cars," he confirmed, "I can do that when I'm 35, not 22. I'm in the prime of my life, I'm training like never before, but mostly I'm learning about the [current] cars - and learning much in general.
“Instead, I'm 100 per cent sure that I will come back in 2013 and, when I do, I'll be much stronger than in 2011 - I'm sure of that. My life has shot by very quickly, but it seems to be going by more steadily now. I knew that [finding away to remain involved] was a necessary step and I'm pleased I took it.
"I am what I am because of Red Bull, I have always been loyal to the brand and will never speak ill of it, but this is still the best year of my life. I'm developing and I'm still only 22 years old. Toro Rosso's was not a sporting decision, of that I have become increasingly sure. It was an internal decision, but I don't want to go deeper into the issue, and nor do I want a close any door."
Asked who he might expect to face as world champion should he return in 2013, Alguersuari insisted that it was far too early to tell.
"A surprise like that of Maldonado in Barcelona will be repeated more times - and don't forget Sergio Perez came close to victory in Malaysia," he reasoned, "There is more equality between the drivers and teams, so we will see more cars in the points and more cars with a chance of winning."