Jenson Button's Formula One career may be over unless current team Honda find a new owner, former driver David Coulthard has warned.
With every other team having confirmed their line-up, Button's only chance of a drive in 2009 looks to be with Honda, who were put up for Sale
"You cannot say 100%, but it would be very difficult to imagine where he goes from there.
"It is a fickle business," said Coulthard, who retired last year.
Coulthard believes his 29-year-old fellow Briton cannot afford to sit out a season if Honda do not make the grid.
"The way the sport is now, there are so many young drivers coming through and there are so many opportunities for teams to pick up these guys," he added.
The team remain hopeful of a rescue bid, but with the season beginning in Melbourne on 29 March, time is running out.
Coulthard, speaking at the launch of Red Bull's new car in Spain, warned that even if the team are bought out, Button could still experience a hugely frustrating season at the back of the grid.
"Honda, off the back of a bad season, suddenly when they realise they are up for Sale
start talking that this (their 2009 car) is a winning design and it's a great opportunity for anyone to buy this winning design," Coulthard said.
"I don't think it is a given that it will suddenly be a winning design.
"You would like to imagine that it would be better than what they were given last year but I think the team at the back of the grid potentially could be Honda.
"Whereas going into previous years with Honda he was all full of hope and expectation that this could be the year that Honda will step up, he has to take a different view now.
"He has to now consider himself as driving for a mid-grid, privateer team.
"Whether they can deliver to his expectations or not is more difficult to judge going into this season and presumably longer term he has to be looking to try to make a step up to a manufacturer team." BBC Sport Report...
What are peoples views on this then?
Button has been given many chances in the past, and consistently produces lacklustre results. Its easy for people to say "Oh, but hes not in a ferrari or a Mclaren" etc, which is true..but a couple of years ago, the Honda was proven to be the fastest car on thw Grid in a straight line !!!!
I think he needs to step down from F1, but not necesarilly end his career. he could go to DTM, Nascar, BTCC, WTCC etc.... He was never F1 material from the start, and its shown.
Young lad Ive worked with, Christiaan Maliepard from Holland, hes stepping up from Formula Ford and tested an F3 in Malaysia. He set the fastest lap time there ever in an F3, on his first go. He has talent, but unfotunatly is having to settle for Formula Renault this year, due to lack of funds. Its people like him who need to be helped, and developed to join F1