Takuma Sato will be the first Japanese driver to win an F1 Grand Prix, says Honda motorsport boss Otmar Szafnauer.
Sato drove an assured race in the US Grand Prix
"I think so, he's got the potential to do it," said Szafnauer after Sato came third in the US GP for his first-ever podium placing in Formula One.
"The package is there," said Szafnauer. "He's proven that he's quick enough to do it and it could happen this year."
Until Indianapolis, Sato had largely been overshadowed this season by BAR team-mate Jenson Button.
Szafnauer added: "He drove a great race. Hopefully this will dispel some of the speculation that Taku's driving style is what causes our engine failures.
"He fought very hard and he had to fight to get through the field and drove very hard and the engine survived."
Team boss David Richards said: "It's been a long time in coming but well deserved - he drove an impeccable race."
"He's learning fast. You have to remember he's been racing for only six years. He will improve faster than anyone else in this pit lane."