Renault and Force India have emerged as the most likely teams to keep Nick Heidfeld's formula one career alive beyond 2010.
Although returning from Mercedes and Pirelli test roles to complete the current season with Sauber, Heidfeld has not been signed for next season by the Swiss team, who are instead pitting the Telmex-backed rookie Sergio Perez alongside Kamui Kobayashi.
But veteran Heidfeld, revealing in Korea this week that he does not carry any personal sponsorship, has emerged as a candidate to replace the disappointing Russian pay-driver Vitaly Petrov at Renault.
Team boss Eric Boullier, suggesting that a decision could be made by Abu Dhabi next month, told Auto Motor und Sport: "Both Heidfeld and Sutil have a chance."
Renault's thinking is that, with a good driver alongside Robert Kubica this year, the team might have beaten Mercedes to fourth place in the constructors' championship -- with prize-money arguably beyond even Petrov's impressive dowry.
Adrian Sutil, with a solid offer to stay at Force India, is also an interesting candidate, especially with his EUR5 million in Medion sponsorship to offer.
The good news for Heidfeld is that Sutil is also in the running for the Williams seat, and his departure to either Renault or Williams would free up the place at Force India.
"That place is only free if Sutil goes," Heidfeld confirmed.
And if Sutil does go, the 33-year-old German must be a strong contender.
"It is hardly conceivable that Force India will go into 2011 with Vitantonio Liuzzi next to Paul di Resta -- one a newcomer and another who has been disappointing," said the German media report.