Romain Grosjean has acknowledged that he cannot expect any favouritism when it comes to retaining his seat at Lotus for 2013.
The Frenchman is managed by the Gravity group run by team owner Genii Capital and overseen by team principal Eric Boullier, but accepts that there is no guarantee that he will be retained alongside Kimi Raikkonen for 2013.
Grosjean's return to F1 after a fraught part-season in 2009 began well, with a strong qualifying performance in Australia and three podium finishes before the halfway mark, but also featured a string of on-track incidents that eventually culminated in him receiving a one-race ban after a start-line pile-up in Belgium. With no indication as to his future prospects forthcoming from Enstone, the rumour mill has begun to list possible candidates to replace the former GP2 Series champion.
“There is no room for mercy,” Grosjean told Switzerland's Le Matin
newspaper, "but that's normal for the top level. Seats in F1 are scarce; there are no presents."
Despite finishing second in Canada and third at both the Bahrain and Hungarian grands prix, Grosjean admits that he still has a lot to learn about life in the top flight. Team-mate Raikkonen finally returned the Enstone operation to the top step of the podium in Abu Dhabi, but the Frenchman's form fell away towards the end of the year, with three seventh places his best results following his return from suspension.
Observers claimed that Grosjean had become more circumspect following the incident in Belgium, blunting his competitive edge, and retirements at both Yas Marina and Interlagos left him eighth overall in the standings, 114 points behind his team-mate.
"I learned a lot - more than I thought I would,” he insisted, “But the world of F1 is more difficult than I imagined. When I returned, I saw that there was a mountain to climb – and, once I started to climb, I saw how high it really is."
Kamui Kobayashi and Heikki Kovalainen are the latest names to have been linked to Grosjean's seat.