Kamui Kobayashi is now set to race for Toyota in Formula 1 next year, after team president John Howett said he had been impressed with the youngster in his two outings for the team.
Kobayashi delivered his first F1 points with a strong run to sixth place in Abu Dhabi – helped in part by a brave overtaking move past World Champion Jenson Button. With Toyota looking for new drivers for next year, Howett said it was likely that Kobayashi would take one of the team's seats in 2010.
"It looks like it," explained Howett. "We will have to give really serious consideration, as he has really shown very good strong results.
"I am very impressed. We were very happy again. What we like is his real fighting spirit. He is not intimidated by anybody. It's very positive."
Howett said that Kobayashi's performances had erased all doubts about his potential after a difficult season he endured in GP2 this year.
"I think that is why there was some hesitation. We always understood that he was very good in terms of racing spirit. That has been there all through his career, but because partly the GP2 pace did not look competitive, you were always hesitant against the risk.
"It is a lesson definitely that sometimes we should all be braver in our driver choices and not go for the safer, risk-hedged decision."
Although experienced drivers Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil have been linked with Toyota, Howett also suggested that Kobayashi's performances could also prompt the team to take two youngsters.
"I think that is something we are currently discussing. There are some [current] drivers that are not fixed who you would consider, but if they looked not likely then we would prefer to take a brave new direction."
Toyota is likely to firm up its driver lineup after a Japanese board meeting on November 15, where the team's operating budget for 2010 will be signed off.