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Williams sign Nakajima in test role 08 Nov 2006

Kazuki Nakajima is announced as an official Williams test driver. 8 November 2006. © WilliamsF1

Williams announced on Wednesday that Kazuki Nakajima has been appointed as an official tester with the team. The 21 year-old Japanese driver is the son of Satoru Nakajima, who raced for Lotus and Tyrrell in the mid 1980’s and early ‘90’s.

Nakajima, currently competing in the Formula 3 Euro Series, will take up his new role following the conclusion of his season and will work alongside race drivers Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz, as well as fellow tester Narain Karthikeyan, on the development of the Toyota-powered FW29 for 2007.

“For anyone with an interest in motor racing, Formula One 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,” said Nakajima. “I look forward to helping as much as I can with the team’s transition to Toyota power for 2007. It will be a great honour to be the first Toyota Young Driver programme (TDP) member to graduate to Formula One.”

Williams evaluated a number of potential candidates for the job, but Nakajima's good progression through junior Formulae and a positive GP2 test and simulator work alongside other assessments ultimately secured him the role.

“Kazuki has consistently demonstrated his potential through karting and other junior Formulae,” said team boss Frank Williams. “Having assessed both his potential in the car and his aptitude out of it, we believe he has the necessary ingredients to graduate to Formula One in a testing role.”

Yoshiaki Kinoshita, general manager of Toyota’s Motorsport Division, added: “We are extremely delighted that Williams has chosen one of the drivers from the Toyota Young Drivers Program as an official team test driver. It will be certainly a big opportunity for Kazuki and we hope that Kazuki will make a contribution to Williams' test program and their fight back in the championship.”

Nakajima started his racing career under his father’s tutelage at the age of 11, in 1996. Three years later, Nakajima was Suzuka Formula ICA karting champion. As he graduated through the championships, his performance in the All Japan Formula A kart championship attracted the attentions of the Toyota Motor Co and he became a member of the Toyota Young Driver programme.

The following year he was Formula Toyota Champion, the stepping stone to Japanese Formula 3, a series he concluded as runner-up in 2005 while also selectively undertaking GT races in Japan. In 2006, he took the important step of demonstrating his talent outside of his native Japan by contesting the Formula 3 Euro Series and is now expected to start contributing to Williams’ on-track testing programme before the end of the year.