Romain Grosjean says the difference in machinery between the 10 Formula One teams on the grid makes it impossible to know who has been the best driver in the sport over the past 30 years.
Speaking in the latest edition of the ESPN F1 podcast, the Haas driver talked about missed opportunities in his career and his options on the driver market for 2021. Looking back at his career, he pointed to victories in all the main junior categories on the way to F1 as well as a number of near victories with Lotus in 2012 and 2013.
But when asked where he would rank himself against F1's best drivers, he said the difference in performance between each car means it is impossible to say who was the top driver of any season.
"For the last 30 years, I believe you will never know who was the best driver of each year," he said. "Maybe beforehand when things were a bit different, but for the last 30 years it [driver performance] has been dominated by cars.
"I've had some really quick drivers [as teammates] but only the results of my career can talk for me. I was racing in Formula 3 against Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Hulkenberg in the same team and I won the championship. Then I won Formula 2 [known as GP2 back then] -- I was leading it [in 2009 before moving to F1] and then came back again [and won it in 2011].
"I've won pretty much everything I have competed in except Formula One, which is the one you want, but it depends on the car you have, the opportunities and the chance.
"Never say never, I always dream that the day could come. A lot of people could laugh about it, but if I lose that dream then I lose the fact that I want to be in Formula One and I would go somewhere else. So for me, it's important to carry on and to think my day could come one day and that I'm ready for it and that I work as hard as I can and as best as I can to achieve that."
Grosjean's contract with Haas runs to the end of this year, but some options in the 2021 driver market have already closed off after Ferrari signed Carlos Sainz on a two-year contract and McLaren signed Daniel Ricciardo. The moves were triggered by Sebastian Vettel announcing his departure from Ferrari at the end of the year, but Grosjean said there were still options open to him.
"There were a few surprises -- the big one was Sebastian and then there were choices made that I would have probably made different, but I understand and it's been fun to watch," Grosjean said. "Obviously, Carlos going to Ferrari and then there was a good seat at McLaren and that was a nice opportunity for Ricciardo and still one seat at Renault that could be attractive for the future.
"But again, with the cost cap, we are hoping that more teams could be great and I think Racing Point is on a really good path from what we saw in winter testing, they are really competitive and have done great work with Mercedes, so there will be some good teams to look for in the future. The driver market has been interesting, there are a few seats left around, but I think everyone will take a little bit of time to look at it."
Between 2012 and 2015, Grosjean scored 10 podiums with Lotus, which has since become the Renault F1 team. Asked if a return to the Enstone-based team could be an option for 2021, he said: "It would be a nice story. I spent 10 years at Enstone and they funded most of my career, and obviously the last podium of Enstone is mine!
"I think it would be nice to go back there, but it would also be nice to stay at Haas or to try another team. We haven't even done a race, but we are already talking about next year, which is a bit strange. But also we are getting into mid-June and early July, which is the start of the silly season, so I don't know, I think first we go back racing, see how the car behaves.
"I will try to do my best and see if my level is still where I want it to be and then we will start discussing and chatting and seeing what we can do."