Williams confirmed on October 9th that test and reserve driver Kazuki Nakajima will race in the last Grand Prix of the season in Brazil after Alex Wurz announced his immediate retirement. Nakajima has been behind the wheel of the Williams five...
Williams confirmed on October 9th that test and reserve driver Kazuki Nakajima will race in the last Grand Prix of the season in Brazil after Alex Wurz announced his immediate retirement. Nakajima has been behind the wheel of the Williams five times during Friday practice sessions in 2007 while also competing in the GP2 series, in which he was rookie of the year.
"I am very grateful to the team who have given me this opportunity," said the 22 year-old Japanese. "I hope I now know the car very well and thankfully have done some Friday driving as recently as Shanghai. This is a chance I intend to grab with both hands and repay the faith the team are showing in me with a strong performance."
Last Friday morning in China Nakajima put his Williams in the top 10 in practice, ninth overall and half a second behind team race driver Nico Rosberg. That same day Frank Williams said in the FIA press conference that Nakajima was Formula One material, although he hedged his bets about the youngster's long-term prospects.
The team stressed in today's announcement that Nakajima's promotion for Interlagos was not intended as an evaluation for a race seat in 2008, only to give him some experience. "You cannot assess a driver's capability on the basis of one race but this is an ideal opportunity to develop Kazuki's experience," said Williams. "I am confident he will approach the race in a very workmanlike and focused way."
Williams' race line up for 2008 seems, as do a few others, to depend on the future of Fernando Alonso. Given the current frosty relations between the Spaniard and McLaren it would be a surprise if he stayed with the Woking squad next year. Speculation is rife about what may develop not only at McLaren but also elsewhere if Alonso leaves.
Ferrari has underlined its commitment to Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa but Alonso's (possible) departure from McLaren would no doubt affect other teams. Renault has been stalling on naming its racers for next year and while Williams has asserted its rights to Rosberg, the German's name has cropped up in relation to McLaren.
Toyota also has a vacant race seat for 2008 so there's still a fair amount of scope for shuffling around. It's the usual fun and games but it doesn't seem likely that there will be any more announcements until the final race is over. Drivers recently linked with Williams include Toro Rosso's Tonio Liuzzi and BMW Sauber tester/GP2 champion Timo Glock.