Rold?n Rodriguez has denied stories linking him to one of the two vacant seats at the renamed Force India team next season, although he admits that he considers himself still in the running to graduate to Formula One.

Speculation earlier in the week suggested that the Spaniard had inked a deal to make his F1 race debut in 2008, but Rodriguez has since played down the rumours, insisting that he still has some way to go to make the step up from the test role has agreed with the Silverstone-based team, but equally claiming that he will be picked on ability rather than what financial contribution he can make to the squad.

"There is an 80 per cent possibility that, next year, I will be a race driver," he told Spain's, "However, I must continue to test and train as well as I have up to now. It depends on that and not money."

Rodriguez's assertion that he will not be hired as a pay driver next season comes despite the mayor of his home town, Valladolid, admitting that the city does not have the wherewithal to back him in the top flight as other cities around Spain have done for drivers in other categories.

"I have a magnificent relationship with the city, just as I do with the region of Castilla y Le?n y Caja Duero," he commented, "If they consider the opportunity to support me, I will receive them with open arms, although I am conscious that there are reasons why they may not be able to."



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