Romain Grosjean insists that he is feeling more and more optimistic about remaining with Lotus next season, despite not yet having been confirmed by the Enstone team.
The Frenchman earned his return to the top flight thanks in part to his ties to team boss Eric Boullier, but a series of accidents – notably one at Spa which eventually led to him being suspended for the Italian Grand Prix – have cast doubts on whether he would be retained, especially when there are likely to be similarly talented drivers on the market for 2013.
Kamui Kobayashi and Heikki Kovalainen have both been mentioned in connection with the seat alongside Kimi Raikkonen, while former Toro Rosso pilot Jaime Alguersuari claims to have turned down an offer from Enstone to remain at the Italian outfit - which promptly dropped him.
While unable to keep pace with Raikkonen in the championship, Grosjean posted a respectable points tally and earned a top eight position in the standings, buoyed by podiums in Bahrain, Canada and Hungary. Even though he accrued only 14 of his 96 total points on the run-in – at a time when Raikkonen claimed victory in Abu Dhabi – the Frenchman remains confident that his season as a whole will stand him in good stead when Lotus considers its number two for 2013.
"Things are on the right track," Grosjean he told France's l'Equipe 21
, "I hope all goes well and that I will be able to make use of what I accomplished this year."
Should he not be retained by Lotus, it is thought unlikely that Grosjean will be picked up by any of the three teams - Force India, Caterham and Marussia - still to confirm their line-ups for next season, even though he feels he has learnt from the tribulations of 2012.
"I hope to be stronger [next] season,” he said in an earlier report, “Normally, we say that the first year is for learning, the second to win, but F1 is a little different. I went through ups and downs this season, but I learned a thousand things.
“Everything started well, with the third place on the grid in Melbourne, and then we managed podiums, and the atmosphere in the team has always been very good. I went faster than I thought but, admittedly, I had a difficult time too.
“In the end, the team allowed me to grow, to become a better driver, so I feel stronger than at the beginning of the season. I learned a lot - and I continue to learn…”