AT&T Williams F1 technical director Sam Michael has predicted that the team's number two driver Kazuki Nakajima will come good - and be a lot more competitive next season.
Nakajima has had a somewhat mixed rookie year and while he has shown improved form and consistency, having arrived at the Grove-based outfit as a raw - and sometimes rough around the edges - GP2 graduate, he has been unable to really get near team-mate, Nico Rosberg.
Nakajima and Rosberg both inked new deals earlier this month however, which will see them remain at Williams in 2009 - along with test driver, Nico Hulkenberg - and Michael is convinced the Japanese driver will be a stronger prospect in 2009.
"He has scored more points this season than a lot of other drivers' that have more experience than him. He has done okay for his first year. Next year we will really see if he can step up because he will know all the tracks," Michael told Crash.net Radio
in an exclusive interview.
"He will take stock over the winter. I have seen it many times before with a rookie where they have their first year and then have the winter break and come back into the second year very strongly.
"I am quite sure that will happen with Kazuki as well. He is a survivor. You have only got to look at the difficult races, where there has been bad weather and safety cars and he is always there."
As for the decision to stick with an unchanged driver line-up, Michael added that will definitely help them, especially with the rule changes next year being so extensive.
"It will help a lot because '09 is going to be quite a big technical challenge dominated by aero development but followed closely by tyres and KERS. Being able to concentrate on that technical side of the car and not drivers' will assist us. We will also have the same test driver in Nico Hulkenberg and all that continuity is very positive," he summed-up.
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH SAM MICHAEL: CLICK HERE