Two drivers at opposite ends of their Formula One careers both used the opening day of the Italian Grand Prix to confirm that they believe they are close to securing agreement to remain in the top flight next season.

Sebastien Bourdais and Giancarlo Fisichella both have reason to wonder whether their respective tenure of seats at Scuderia Toro Rosso and Force India F1 will be extended, but both appeared confident that they will be on the grid in 2009.

Bourdais, in particular, appeared to be on shaky ground mid-season, with his performances in the STR3 trailing well behind those of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. However, amid rumours that Red Bull may try to usher in another of its prot?g?s to replace him in 2009, the Frenchman has shown a marked upswing in the last two races, qualifying in the top ten each time and only being shuffled out of a possible podium in the closing stages at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend.

"All I can say is that, right now, it seems to be going fairly well, and I will just try to keep the momentum going," the four-time Champ Car champion said when asked if he could comment on his future in F1, "It is not my decision obviously but, if I could say what I wanted to do, it is quite clear. I would like to stay with Toro Rosso and use the work we have put together this year to try and build something strong for next year.

"I will keep on doing the best I can and we will see if it is good enough. Obviously, it is Gerhard [Berger], Franz [Tost] and Dietrich [Mateschitz]'s decision, so we will see."

Although Bourdais' name has been mentioned in connection with a possible return to the USA and the unified IndyCar Series next season - especially following confirmation that both Takuma Sato and Sebastien Buemi will test for STR this month - the Frenchman is happy that he has been able to show better form in recent races - even if he admits that he was fortunate both times.

"For sure, we hope to carry the momentum, that's the goal," he insisted, "Valencia was nothing special for me, it's just that the team did a great job and the car was very competitive. But we didn't really fix the issues that I had been facing in previous races.

"Then we arrived at Spa and, obviously, I felt really good straight away. We had just had a few handling problems here and there, but nothing fundamental. We found some solutions for this and, in qualifying, it was really strong. In the race, we looked set for fifth place, which was quite unreal to be honest. When [race engineer] Claudio [Valestri] told me 'you are racing Kimi coming out of the pits', I was thinking 'what the hell is he saying, this doesn't sound right'. But it was a great race and I can only [wish] that it had been 43 laps, not 44.

"It is tough to say [whether the performances can continue]. Obviously, I felt really good at Spa, but it is a track which I always liked and flows nicely. You don't have many entries with a lot of brakes in the corners, so that suited my style very well and it was not really showing the problems I had been facing with the R3. Obviously, we came here [to Monza] and tested and I wasn't very comfortable, but we will see if we can use some of the knowledge that we took from Spa and try and build from there and see what can happen."

Fisichella, meanwhile, has found himself at the back of the field after taking on the challenge of helping to turn Force India into a midfield regular. The Italian has shown promise on occasion, but is being hampered by the team's small budget and a car that is basically an evolution of previous years' models. However, his enthusiasm appears undimmed and the team has greatly valued the input his experience has allowed him to contribute.

Although team owner Vijay Mallya has said that he is in no rush to name his line-up for next season, and despite the usual 'silly season' rumours surrounding the backmarker teams, Fisichella is optimistic about returning to the Silverstone-based operation.

"I think we are very close to finalising a contract with Force India for next year," he claimed, "I've had a difficult season because, obviously, the results are not what we were expecting, what we hoped for, but the atmosphere is good, they are pushing really hard and we've made a step forward. I feel well, I think they are happy with me, so for sure, next year, we will work together again."

Heading to his home grand prix, and a venue where he has enjoyed commendable reliability, Fisichella is hoping to make up further ground, with a spot in the second round of qualifying still the team's stated benchmark.

"We have made, through the season, a step forward compared to last year, especially in the last couple of races," he confirmed, "We got the new quick upshift and we made another step forward in the last couple of races. I was quicker than one of the Hondas in Valencia and, in the last race, we were just a few hundredths slower than the Hondas. The gap between us and the leaders was 1.3 or 1.4 seconds, which is quite a lot, but 1.3 or 1.4 four or five years ago [meant] there was a possibility to start fourth or fifth. Now the gap is very small, so it is quite tough for us."