Felipe Massa believes that he can still find a decent seat for the 2014 F1 season, but insists that he will not accept any offer just to remain on the grid.
The claim is a familiar one from the Brazilian, who intimated as much even before his release from Ferrari was confirmed last month, but, with few options matching his requirements, Massa's optimism could yet be misplaced.
It is nearly five years since he came closest to winning the F1 world title, winning on home soil in Brazil giving him hope for 30 seconds before Lewis Hamilton dashed the dream with a last lap pass on Timo Glock, and much has happened to Massa in that time. While he has established himself as one of the premier 'number twos' in the field, there is the belief that the near-fatal accident he suffered in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix effectively stunted his ability to challenge right at the front.
The 32-year old, of course, refuses to believe that he is anything but a racewinner in waiting, with a championship challenge the necessary knock-on from any success he finds on track, but he is already facing opposition from Nico Hulkenberg in the race to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus, likely the only team with a front-running car outside of Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.
"I don't believe it is the time to stop yet,” he told journalists at Suzuka, “I believe in myself and I believe I can do a lot more and fight a lot more.
"I am very optimistic that something will come - very
. I think we are going to find the direction. I don't know where, but I am really confident that something will come and it can be good, interesting."
Although there are potential vacancies in the lower reaches of the field, perhaps the only one that would appeal to Massa is Sauber where, given that teenage rookie Sergey Sirotkin is expected to fill one seat at the behest of the team's new Russian business partners, he would be the undoubted team leader. However, he insists that he would not accept any
offer to be the number one…
"I am sure I can give a lot to another team,” he insisted, “I am happy to change, I am happy to start something from zero. Many things change for next year, everything starts from zero, so I know I can be very important for a team - a team that is able to do something, to build a strong car. For sure, a team that is not able to do that, I'm not interested in."
Should he not land the opportunity he craves, however, Massa admits that he would bow out of the top flight with few regrets.
"I am a very happy man," he stressed, "I have zero frustration in my career. I had an incredible career that I never believed I was going to have. But I am looking forward to getting even greater results and to fight still for victories and for the championship.”