Despite learning the F1 ropes in far from ideal circumstances, Giedo van der Garde appears to be a contender for several seats in 2014.
The Dutchman replaced Heikki Kovalainen in the Caterham line-up this season but, with the team opting for a hybrid 2012-13 car to kick off the season, began his F1 career chasing a rejuvenated Marussia team. As the year progressed, and Caterham's complete 2013 car came on line for the European races, so the battle became more even, and van der Garde responded by making the second round of qualifying in tricky conditions in both Monaco and, last weekend, in Belgium.
While his F1 future was thought to revolve around battling to retain his seat at the Leafield team, however, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf insists that van der Garde has options elsewhere for 2014.
Bolstered by personal backing from fashion brand McGregor, the former GP2 Series frontrunner is being linked to potential openings at Sauber, Williams and Force India, and van der Garde's representatives, Jan Paul ten Hoopen and Jeroen Schothorst, look set to continue talks at next weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
While Sauber may be unwilling to pair a relatively inexperienced driver with expected 'signing' Sergey Sirotkin in much the same was as the Russian's seemingly enforced arrival could spell the end of Esteban Gutierrez's stay at Hinwil, both Williams and Force India may present stronger options, with the former having enjoyed its own strong relationship over the past few years. Indeed, van der Garde has repeatedly been linked to the Grove team in recent season, although Williams is tipped to retain its current pairing of Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas for a second season.
The situation at Force India is less clear, although Paul di Resta appears likely to remain unless he receives a surprise call from one of the sport's bigger teams. Ferrari and McLaren were reportedly sniffing around the Scot a year ago, but his fluctuating form has seen interest recede in 2013. While di Resta has a year to run on his deal with Vijay Mallya's operation, team-mate Adrian Sutil's situation is less clear, and it could be that an enforced retirement from F1 opens the door for a new face. van der Garde is not likely to have it all his own way, however, with the Silverstone-based squad apparently keen to re-sign Jules Bianchi, a year after passing the Frenchman over and seeing him wash up at Marussia.
van der Garde, however, appeared less than keen to discuss his option when asked about his situation at the Belgian Grand Prix last weekend.
“Next year is still far away,” the 28-year old told journalists, “I still want to focus on the next few races, do well, maximise myself. I think the new tyres are helping me a little bit, with my style of driving, so then we'll see where it ends up.
“I've been working really hard [and], of course, it's for rookies not easy to come in. I think Jules was a little bit better than me at the beginning, but it went better and better and you see a good direction going, especially the last race, which was going really well. I'm happy with the team, happy with the performance and we'll keep on pushing like this.”