Heikki Kovalainen says he is not interested in leaving Team Lotus despite speculation having linked the Finn with a seat at Lotus Renault GP.
Kovalainen joined Lotus from McLaren at the start of the 2010 season and has a contract with the team for next year, too. His strong performances this year, however, have triggered rumors that he may be targeted by other teams.
Still, Kovalainen insists Lotus, which will race as Caterham next year, is the best place for him at the moment, and that he would only leave if he was offered a drive by one of the top teams.
"I really have to be fair with Tony [Fernandes, team boss], and last year I agreed for two more years because I could see a year in this team would not be enough," Kovalainen said. "I am already signed for next year. If there was a seat available at a very top team then I am sure Tony would say to me, 'Go for it'. But somewhere in the middle, I would not want to look at that. Our team can make a step forward next season, and I am quite glad to be part of it.
"I feel I am in a good position, I have a good relationship with the team because I have been here since the beginning, so at the moment I have not had any contacts with anyone and it would need to be a serious contact. After next year, who knows.
"We need to see where we are going and I hope we make the step forward – and we can do it. At the moment, there is no better place for me; the support is great. With these performances I feel I have been able to take my position in the team and not just because I am good friends with Tony, but actually being able to perform – but then, who knows."
Kovalainen left McLaren after two difficult seasons as Lewis Hamilton's teammate, and the Finn concedes he was lacking confidence during that period. He said moving to Lotus was like a fresh start for him, and claims the decision has paid off.
"Whatever talk is in the paddock, it is much more positive, so that is a good thing," he said. "I think my career has slowly turned around again, after Renault and McLaren – things were not working and it was clear I was not able to get the results/performances that people were expecting.
"I realized it should not be like this, I have done much better before. I didn't have confidence, that is why I felt I needed to go back to the starting point, to start building it, and the confidence is good and at the same time, everything has turned into positive."
He added: "I have made a lot of changes since McLaren/Renault days, I could feel it is not working. I felt that I was not performing at the level I should be, and I wasn't feeling comfortable. Now I think I am on the right track."
Kovalainen is adamant that both he and his team have to take a significant step forward in 2012, however.
"It is actually going exactly like Tony was telling me a few years ago," Kovalainen added. "When I was first with Mike [Gascoyne], and the guys, the factory was still empty and there was not much there. The concept they had was convincing and it looked realistic and we have been able to stick to it quite well.
"It wasn't a concept that in two years we will be winning races. Last year we were a young team, this year we were still that but next year we are an established team and we need to step up to another level. As a driver, I feel that I am ready for any kind of challenge but I still need to improve. I look forward to that."