Giancarlo Fisichella has admitted that his 2008 Formula 1 World Championship season with Force India has fallen some way short of initial expectations - but insists he is both hopeful and confident of remaining in the top flight for some years yet.

Back at the beginning of the campaign, both the experienced Italian - chastened by a trio of seasons spent at world champions Renault during which he struggled to match the pace of team-mate Fernando Alonso and latterly Heikki Kovalainen - and Force India spoke of the possibility of scoring points and maybe, if luck went their way, the occasional podium this year.

Not only has that failed to materialise - with a best finish of tenth place in Spain - but with seven races of the campaign to go points seem as far away as ever. Indeed, with the Silverstone-based squad still to break out of the opening phase of qualifying, efforts have been turned to 2009 - what Fisichella hopes will be the catalyst for a considerable leap up the F1 pecking order.

"The car is simply not fast enough," the 35-year-old underlined in an interview with Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report. "That makes it difficult. I cannot do much more than I am already doing.

"Of course it is difficult to race at the back - that's just a mental thing - but I accept that it is the way it is for me right now. With a spot in the points, I would be very satisfied."

Fisichella may have three grand prix victories to his name and 18 rostrum finishes from his long and successful career in F1, but he acknowledges that - despite more often than not having had the measure of young team-mate Adrian Sutil in 2008 - he has not yet been given the opportunity with Force India to disprove the critics who have doubted his ultimate potential in recent seasons.

"Not yet, no," reflected the Roman, strongly tipped to remain at the team next year [see separate story - click here]. "Obviously I am convinced that they are wrong, but I am not yet really able to show it.

"I still love Formula 1 and I hope I get the chance to be around for some more seasons. That is my priority."