Nick Heidfeld is confident that he will continue in Formula 1 as a race driver next season despite Sauber signing GP2 race winner Sergio Perez to partner Kamui Kobayashi for 2011.
The 33-year-old made his F1 comeback at the Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago after replacing Pedro de la Rosa at Sauber, but is now once again hunting for a seat. Heidfeld will face tough competition for a place, with few drives remaining for next season, although Renault, Force India and Williams of the established teams have yet to confirm their full lineups.
"I think it will happen," he said of his prospects of landing a race drive. "But until it's signed, you can never be sure. "Obviously, there are not that many places left for next year, but we are doing our best. It's looking positive, definitely."
Heidfeld admitted that he did not know that Sauber was set to sign Perez when he agreed to return after last month's Italian Grand Prix. But he believes that the deal is good for the future of the team and is pleased that the outfit he drove for in three spells from 2001-'03, 2006-'09 and in the final five races of 2010 now has a bright future.
"I didn't know about it before I signed for this year," said Heidfeld. "Obviously, I knew that there were things going on in the background and Peter [Sauber] informed me before it was made official.
"Actually, I didn't complain. Quite the opposite – I congratulated him, because it's great news for the team and especially for the guys in Hinwil who I have worked with for seven years. I'm happy that they can continue with a partner in Telmex that secures the future and gives them the possibility to move further up."
Heidfeld admitted that he was disappointed that he no longer has the chance to stay with Sauber next year, but is hopeful that he can finish the season strongly.
"It's not so good for me, obviously, because there's one place less but it was not a place that I took for granted for next year," he said. "Some people might look at it like I came back and have now been kicked out again, but that's not how it feels. The team and Peter trust me, that's why they took me on board, and the reasons for the deal next year are very obvious.
"I have a very good feeling, the team is backing me and we will try to work together as best we can for the rest of the season."