NOVEMBER 8, 2006

Williams signs Nakajima

WilliamsF1 has announced that Toyota protege Kazuki Nakajima, the 21 year old son of Japan's first regular F1 driver Satoru Nakajima, will be one of its test drivers in 2007. Kazuki is currently racing in the Formula 3 Eurocup but hopes to one day follow his father's footsteps into F1. He has been racing since he was 11 and went on to win the Formula Toyota championship and finish runner-up in Japanese F3 before heading for Europe.

"For anyone with an interest in motor racing, Formula 1 is the ultimate objective and I am delighted that Williams, one of the senior names in the sport and a team that exists solely to race, has given me this great chance," Nakajima says. "I look forward to helping as much as I can with the team's transition to Toyota power for 2007.

Nakajima is not the first Toyota Young Driver to get into F1 but his predecessor Ryan Briscoe was never able to make the transition from test driver to racer and has since moved to the United States.

It remains to be seen how much mileage the Japanese youngster will get as testing in 2007 is restricted and Alex Wurz, Nico Rosberg and Narain Karthikeyan will all want to get as many miles as possible in the cars. With Toyota support, however, young Nakajima will probably do all right.

Oddly enough, his father Satoru was a Honda man throughout his career in F1 and owed his place in F1 to Honda's engine supply deals, although to give him credit he did once set the fastest lap in a race, as he was always extremely good in the wet. In the course of 1985 he did considerable testing for Williams-Honda in Japan but it is always said that one of the reasons that Williams lost its engine deal was because the team refused to acquiesce to Honda's demands to run Satoru in the races.