Nakajima stays at Williams for 2009

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Kazuki Nakajima will spend a second F1 season at Williams in 2009

Williams will retain its 2008 drivers for 2009 after confirming a contract extension for Kazuki Nakajima as predicted here earlier.

With Nico Rosberg’s contract set to run until the end of next year it means the team’s race driver line-up is set.

Rosberg and Nakajima scored points in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend but it has been a largely difficult year for the team. It has struggled to deliver on the promise it showed in testing and in the first race of the year at Melbourne, where Rosberg finished on the podium.

Rosberg has invariably been the quicker of the two but lost potential points on several occasions early in the season with a few crashes. Next season will be his fourth year with the team.

Nakajima has struggled to match Rosberg’s pace but has picked up points on several occasions and, crucially, enjoys the backing of Williams’ engine supplier Toyota.

Williams has also confirmed Nico Hulkenberg will remains as test driver for 2009. Hulkenberg is currently leading the Formula Three Euroseries for ART.

F1 2009 season
2009 F1 drivers and teams
Kazuki Nakajima biography

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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16 comments on “Nakajima stays at Williams for 2009”

  1. well….what can you say…… As someone who got into F1 in the late 70’s, it saddens me to see Williams in the position they are now. Can’t see anything changing in the foreseeable either.

  2. I think that Nakajima staying on was predictable, considering the Toyota connection, but to be honest, the Williams 2008 package has been a massive disappointment. It is true that during the BMW years, Williams suffered from alot of unreliability but they were competitive and towards the front.
    In that period, they enjoyed several victories with Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher behind the wheel, and now those days seem decades away now. The brutal fact is that their last victory was way back in Brazil in 2004, with Montoya, nearly four years ago.
    To add insult to injury, BMW Sauber are now a top three team in the championship, with Williams assuming Sauber’s previous role as midfield runners. The irony cannot be lost on Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head, and its terrible to see such a great team flounder the way Williams have.
    I wish them all the best, and I hope that the 2009 car gives both Rosberg and Nakajima what they deserve.

  3. Reportedly, Williams went from earning $60million in 2005 to losing $88 million during 2006 and 2007 – so they need to keep all partners sweet, and especially during the current economic condition.

    Nakajima’s not been as bad as everyone would have thought, he has improved, but he’s not the best. However, you can only argue that the car can only be as good as the driver, and vice versa. I still like to see a Japanese in an F1 car, and hopefully he will improve significantly next year to help Williams shift up the grid.

  4. Quite happy to see Nakajima retained, but I must still confess some unease at his qualifying ability. Hopefully his Q3 run in Singapore is a sign of real improvement.

    Loki – No-one in F1 is as able as Sir Frank at keeping sponsors happy.

    Didn’t Williams gain loads of money in ’05 after Button-gate? Also, ’06 was when they had to pay Cosworth for engines after BMW stole their gearbox and bought Sauber. Seems to me they’ve technically been in financial doldrums ever since Renault left. BMW were just propping them up for a few years.

    I recall hearing that Williams only had 20,000 odd pounds in the bank at one stage – they admitted that they would struggle to pay the next salaries at the factory until someone (Toyota or Honda/Button – can’t remember who) gave them a cash injection.

  5. Nakajima remaining with the team isn’t a suprise at all- Williams needs to keep their engine suppliers happy, and I think they will have a determining hand in at least one race seat with the team for as long as they supply the engines.

    It is indeed unfortunate to see a good outfit like Williams struggle on the grid, and I don’t know how they will ever ever return to competitive form in today’s F1 climate. I hope they have some advantage with the new regs in 2009, but depe down I think the only way they will most likley return to title-winning form is if a majority of the team is bought by a car manufacturer. And seeing as I don’t know of any car makers looking to get into F1- plus the fact that Frank and Patrick would never sell- I don’t see this happening anyitme soon.

  6. I agree with you ‘the limit’ but I want you to consider what will have happened if Williams stayed with BMW 3 years ago.BMW would buy the 100% of stakes and a british team with such a long history would be nothing but a branch in a german manufacturer giant.So I support Frankie who stayed indipentened ,it is good for the sport , it is good for Williams , It is good for British Driving History.I hope something change in next years in F1 (Budget limit , reducing costs) and Williams be able to challenge for wins again
    As for Kazuki, Frank Knows…

    Gongratulations to Williams for 500 races I hope for another 500!!!GOod luck Fankie!

  7. Nothing wrong with Kazuki. He may not yet have the qualifying pace of Rosberg, but he quite often is a match for him come the race. Of all the rookies, he has been very consistent during the races. I also cannot forget, he was one of the few drivers who was able to overtake in Singapore, and he did it twice.

  8. Romain from Grenoble
    2nd October 2008, 13:50

    Don’t you think next year could be Williams big chance? I’m very much looking forward to the new technology introduced next year, especially since I understand Williams chose a very original path for their Kers development, with flywheel technology : . It seems totally different to the choice every other team has made (the other choice being I think battery). Anyway, next year technology development will be very interesting to watch, and if flywheel is indeed more efficient than batteries, Williams may be very successful next year.

  9. I think retaining Rosberg and Nakajima is a good thing. The same drivers plus the same car-engine package for the third year running (OK, second in Kazuki’s case) is a solid base for the new season. With less emphasis on aerodynamics, Williams could make a genuine push forward, ’cause aero hasn’t been their thing ever since Adrian Newey left the team.

  10. Williams seem to be clinging by their fingernails. Aging ownership, poor leadership, average drivers and not great results. Not to mention multi-million dollar losses over the last two years. No wonder they fought so hard against customer cars. Their one hope is to take advantage of the new rules next year, but even with that, they’ll be swamped by the pace of development of the other teams.

  11. To be perfectly honest, Williams have had a shocking 2008 considering their previous successes. The only way to get out of the hole they are in requires innovative thinking. Keeping Nakajima doesn’t show that, as he’s consistently proven that he isn’t good enough. I’d have rather seen them take a chance with someone like Hulkenburg, who I think would be an inspired choice. Williams have nothing to lose by thinking out of the box.

  12. ‘Williams have nothing to lose by thinking out of the box.’

    Losing Nakajima would’ve meant losing their free Toyota engines, and paying for new ones means losing money. And if Hulkenberg was a flop, Williams would close shop. Besides, Nakajima has done relatively well by scoring consistently in a crappy car – something Nico hasn’t done in spite of his 2 podiums.

  13. No surprise there then. It was a no brainer he is staying on. Kazuki and Toyota are Japanese.

    I’ve read many comments in the past that the only reason we see Japanese drivers in F1 is because the Japanese are enthusiastic F1 fans and big car manufacturers with lots of money money money. Therefore sadly Kazuki’s skill or more specifically lack of it, does not play as high a role in Williams decision to keep him on but rather the money he brings especially with the credit crunch threatening teams finances.

  14. More free engine for Williams.

  15. Some of the comments surprise me. Williams are more or less where you’d expect them to be – their budget isn’t that big, they do not have works support anymore, and I would say that they are actually punching above their weight.

    As for their financial health, nobody does frugality like Frank. I think because of their money discipline, they will be very well placed in the coming months, because we will surely see some belt-tightening at the top teams.

  16. James – I think it’s partly because Williams were quite adamant about not taking pay-drivers in the past. The great irony about Kazuki Nakajima racing for the team this year is that 20 years ago Frank Williams refused to have his father in the team, which thier engine supplier Honda demanded. Williams lost their Honda engine supply partly as a result. Today they’re much more vulnerable and having the younger Nakajima in the team is essential to preserve their Toyota engine supply.

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