As expected, Williams has nominated Kazuki Nakajima as Alex Wurz's replacement for the Formula One season finale in Brazil in two weekends' time - but the team insists that deal is for on race only at present.

The 22-year old Japanese driver, this year's GP2 Series rookie of the year, has fulfilled the Grove team's test and reserve driver duties throughout 2007 and is a prot?g? of engine partner Toyota, making him the favourite to succeed Wurz, who confirmed his retirement - rumoured over the Shanghai weekend - on Monday.

Nakajima returned to the cockpit of the FW29 in China, replacing Wurz in the first of Friday's two 90-minute practice sessions, giving the first clue that he would be the man to replace the Austrian, although few expected Wurz to bow out with immediate effect. Nakajima has covered over 7000km in testing alone and his appearance in China was his fifth Friday run of the season.

The team is quick to point out, however, that his appearance alongside Nico Rosberg at Interlagos is merely an effort to 'build and develop his experience', and does not guarantee him a spot in the line-up next season. With Wurz retiring and Rosberg tipped to replace Fernando Alonso at Mclaren, there could be two vacancies at Grove, but team boss Frank Williams insists that Brazil will not be an evaluation exercise.

"You cannot assess a driver's capability on the basis of one race, but this is an ideal opportunity to develop Kazuki's experience," Williams explained, "I am confident he will approach the race in a very workmanlike and focused way."

Nakajima will join the select band of second generation drivers to have followed their fathers into Formula One, 16 years after dad Satoru bowed out.

"I am very grateful to the team who have given me this opportunity," he said, "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."

Nakajima has been mentioned in the same breath as Giancarlo Fisichella, Tonio Liuzzi and Timo Glock as a potential Williams driver for 2008.

 

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