Caterham boss Tony Fernandes is hopeful that the team will be able to reach an agreement with Heikki Kovalainen for next season soon.
The Finn said in Japan that he was confident of a new deal being signed before the end of the current campaign, but the relationship between Caterham and Kovalainen's management, IMG, has not always been smooth. Fernandes' criticism of Kovalainen's manager on Finnish television after the Singapore Grand Prix, for example, led to question marks about the ex-McLaren driver's future.
"I'm hopeful," Fernandes said. "It's no secret that I have a very close relationship with Heikki and I think that he has enjoyed himself here.
"But as a driver, everyone wants to be a World Champion, so you can't begrudge him for wanting to be at a better team. I've said that I think the management could have handled it better but by no means is the relationship damaged."
Despite both sides being upbeat about a new deal, it's not a foregone conclusion that Kovalainen will be given a new contract. A number of drivers capable of bringing money to the team have been in discussions, with the likes of Marussia driver Charles Pic and Caterham GP2 driver Giedo van der Garde among the contenders.
"Correct – you can't discount that," Fernandes said when asked if it was no foregone conclusion that the team would keep Kovalainen because there were drivers available who could bring commercial backing. "I'd be lying to say that we're not [looking at that].
"The most important thing now for me is to give whoever is driving that car a good car and then the driver really makes a difference. Right now, if I had [Sebastian] Vettel in the car, he isn't going to guarantee me a point, so my focus is on making sure we have the right car."