Kamui Kobayashi is confident he will get a drive next season and believes he has earned his place in the top flight.
Speculation about whether or not he will be retained by Sauber for 2013 has been rampant for months now and confirmation this week that Nico Hulkenberg will make the move from Force India to the Swiss-based team next season has done little to quell the rumour mill, especially as test and reserve driver, Esteban Gutierrez is also heavily rumoured to be close to a deal, something that would leave the Japanese pilot as the odd one out.
Despite all that though, Kobayashi isn't too disheartened and has revealed that a number of companies in his native Japan have been in touch following his maiden F1 podium finish at Suzuka.
“We will have to work hard to get next year's seat,” he said ahead of this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, “but I'm pretty confident. I deserve a F1 seat.
“We definitely need to focus on these last three races and a good result is very important. This year it seems there are not many seats left [too] so I think we have to move quite quickly as well.
“I think I will try to focus on the results and also negotiate with other teams or the same team, I don't know.”
So what makes him 'confident'?
“It's a feeling. I have nothing [signed], just feeling. I can't really explain it. We have to see,” he added.
“We still have the last three races and if we have some good results in the last three races maybe something can happen. I believe in that and will try to focus. The feeling for next year is just... [a] feeling.”
His podium in Japan, however, has opened doors, although whether it has come too late in the season remains to be seen.
“After the race at Suzuka this year, since then I think Japan is more interested in motor sport, especially F1. I think if I had a little bit more time I could find more sponsorship from Japan. This is what I'm looking for,” he continued.
“After Suzuka, we definitely had a lot of contact from a couple of companies. It's very difficult to judge what I can say publicly, however, because I'm not deciding the team and I don't know the budget. I have no idea.
“This is a very difficult moment [for me], but at the moment I could find quite a lot of sponsors and we definitely see a lot of good signs after the Suzuka result,” he concluded.