Following Alex Wurz’s retirement from Formula One, Williams have today announced that their test and reserve driver Kazuki Nakajima will race for the team at this seasons finale in Brazil on October 21st. Nakajima has carried out a lot of testing work for the Grove-based squad this year, running on Friday when his GP2 campaign didn’t clash and helping the team develop the FW29.
Kazuki has racked up over 7,000km of testing for Williams this year, and was recently named the rookie of the year in GP2 following a relatively successful debut in the feeder series. Although team boss Frank Williams hasn’t laid out any concrete plans for 2008, Nakajima is looking good for a full-time drive next season, either with Toyota themselves or Toyota-powered Williams.
You cannot assess a driver’s capability on the basis of one race but this is an ideal opportunity to develop Kazuki’s experience. I am confident he will approach the race in a very workmanlike and focused way. Frank Williams.
I am very grateful to the team who have given me this opportunity. 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. Kazuki Nakajima.
With Ralf Schumacher leaving Toyota at the end of the year, there are two seats still available in the experienced mid-field teams, as well as one at Renault currently as Flavio Briatore is yet to announce his pairing, likely waiting on Fernando Alonso’s decision. There are a few drivers itching to progress up the ranks in Formula One, Nelson Piquet Jr, Adrian Sutil and Timo Glock to name just three. With Nico Rosberg now no longer considered a rookie, he would do well to be partnered with a young-gun in the Williams who can push him further and keep him on his toes.
Williams are currently being challenged in the constructors championship by Red Bull Racing, as a late surge in points has narrowed the gap between the two teams. Williams currently stand on 28 points in 4th position, while Red Bull have closed up with 24 points in 5th. The final race in Brazil will be important, not just for the drivers title, but also for the smaller teams all vying for that last advantage in the constructors. With a rookie driver competing in his first race, you have to ask why Williams didn’t try harder to keep Wurz around for one more meeting, if anything for consistencies sake.