Felipe Massa says he knows he needs better results in 2012 to earn a new contract with Ferrari.
Massa, who has yet to finish on the Formula 1 podium this year, will reach the end of his current deal at the end of next season.
Ahead of Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, Massa said: "This is not the only moment [in my career] that I have to do a good job to renew.
"Other times it has happened. I need a good year to continue."
The Brazil race is Massa's 100th for Ferrari, and the 30-year-old from Sao Paulo is hopeful the work behind the scenes at the team will lead to a more competitive car in 2012.
"It was not a very good year, it was not an easy year," he added.
"To have a competitive car, the work is not only now but a few months ago. We wish to have a car more competitive so that we can play for the championship from the beginning to the end and not just some races.
"Although my year was not good, I rely on the strength of the fans, as always. The excitement is always high when I go home."
On Tuesday Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said Massa must prove himself next year if he is to stay with the team.
"We expect great things from him in 2012, and then we'll decide how to proceed. Let's say he'll have to prove himself," said Di Montezemolo.
Di Montezemolo gave his team a mark of six out of 10 for a disappointing year.
"I'd give a five, which I'll raise to six considering the effort and the victory at Silverstone exactly 60 years after Ferrari's first win in Formula 1," he explained.
"The season started badly, we didn't interpret the regulations well and we didn't take risks in the technology of our project."
Di Montezemolo is certain that they will perform better next year.
Massa's home grand prix at Interlagos closes the season, with the 30-year-old driver trailing team-mate Fernando Alonso by 137 points in the championship standings.
Massa joined Ferrari from Sauber for the start of the 2006 season and dramatically lost out to Lewis Hamilton by a single point in the 2008 title race.
However, he has struggled for form following a fractured skull sustained during qualifying at the Hungary Grand Prix in 2009.
His progress this year has been hampered by a series of clashes and a deteriorating relationship with rival Hamilton.
"Massa has been with us for quite a few years," added Di Montezemolo.
"Even if he didn't have such a great season or much luck, we can't question the ability of a driver who was winning the title three years ago, and who has always been fast and competitive."