Brendon Hartley last year became New Zealand’s first Formula One driver in 33 years – but he could be out of the sport after just 25 races.
The 28-year-old was promoted to Red Bull’s Toro Rosso outfit late last season but has been overshadowed this year by young gun Pierre Gasly.
Gasly has already been named to replace Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo in the main Red Bull team next season, Hartley is on shaky ground with four races left in the campaign.
Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko and team boss Franz Tost have refused to commit to the Kiwi despite the driver’s claims that he signed a multi-year deal with the team.
Recent reports say the London-born Thai racer Alexander Albon is in line to replace him at Toro Rosso for 2019.
Red Bull’s decision not to publicly back him in amid such speculation has left Hartley fuming.
“I’ve said it already before: from my point of view I have a contract for next year and anything else is better to discuss with someone from Red Bull,” he told Autosport.
“Obviously my position in the team was already questioned after three races into the start of the season, which is a pretty s***ty position to be in.
“But I feel like I’m stronger because of it, and for the rest I don’t know.
“Definitely I’ve changed my attitude a bit, (I’ve become) more focused in a selfish way, managing my time and just keeping my mind on points that move the stopwatch.
“In an ideal world, you’d have full support, from a contractual point of view, and you’d just be able to focus on doing your job, but it’s Formula One, it’s not always like that.”
If he is dumped by Red Bull, Hartley is likely to return to the World Endurance championship.
The Kiwi won two titles with Porsche – the first coming alongside Australian veteran Mark Webber in 2015 – before his move to Formula One.
But while he says he has “learned a lot in the space of a year”, the Red Bull experience will sting.
“Three races into the season, when you’ve signed a long-term deal, to have to answer questions about your immediate future, it’s not really the ideal situation to be in, for any sportsperson,” he said.
“But I’ve had to deal with it, and I feel like I’ve dealt with it well, and I feel like I’m performing very well, even if I maybe haven’t scored in the points as much (as I would’ve liked).
“There’s definitely been times I’ve been a bit unlucky. With all things being equal, I’ve definitely shown I can do the job.”