Kazuki Nakajima has revealed that his place on the Formula One grid remains in doubt, at least for as long as it takes for the Williams team to decide whether or not to retain his services for a second season.
The Japanese rookie has performed reasonably well in his first F1 season, despite sceptics suggesting that he had been plucked from the GP2 Series a year too early to fulfil Toyota's desire to place one of its development drivers at Grove along with its engines. Until the European Grand Prix two weeks ago, he had matched much vaunted team-mate Nico Rosberg in terms of points and, even now, only trails the German by a single mark after twelve races.
There had been suggestions from the paddock that Toyota was considering switching its protégé to the 'factory' team for 2009 but, following Timo Glock's recent upturn in form and Jarno Trulli's steady veteran contribution to a potential fourth place championship tally, it appears that that door has been closed, if only temporarily, to Nakajima, leaving Williams as perhaps his one and only option for next season.
"I have not got any for news for next year, but I really hope to stay at Williams," the 23-year old confirmed, "That would be my best choice, I think, as I don't think there are many other choices. But I think to stay at Williams is the ideal thing for me."
Pressed on the likelihood of that scenario playing out, especially with Williams being among the growing list of teams apparently showing an interest in 2008 GP2 frontrunner Bruno Senna, Nakajima said that he expected to hear good news.
"I think so, but we will have to wait for the team's decision," he insisted.
An upturn in form at Williams would no doubt help the rookie's cause, as he and Rosberg suffered a mid-season slump that relegated the Grove team to the back of the midfield battle, but Nakajima is hopeful of a stronger end to the season after posting his best qualifying result last time out in Valencia.
"Fortunately, we had a very good car, much more competitive than the last few races," he said, despite knowing that eleventh on the grid led to him clattering the back of Fernando Alonso's Renault on lap one.
"That helped me a lot, and Nico as well. The weekend was quite good for us and for me, especially, apart from the first lap. We had a good feeling, and it just gave me a bit more confidence, especially as we had had a difficult few races. It was very good to come back to a good position."
Former triple F1 World Champion Niki Lauda, however, remains less convinced by Nakajima's ultimate potential, insisting: "It is too hard to give a clear judgement about the [Williams] drivers, because the car's performance is not good enough."