After watching Kamui Kobayashi race to sixth place in Abu Dhabi, Toyota team president John Howett on Sunday said the Japanese rookie had staked a worthy claim to a full-time race seat for 2010.
The Cologne based outfit is set to now part with both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, but both of its high-profile targets Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen have turned down Toyota's advances.
Kobayashi, 23, demonstrated on-track flair two weeks ago in Brazil, and he allied that with genuine pace in Abu Dhabi as he again filled in for the injured Glock.
Asked if he was a shoe-in for a 2010 race seat, Howett told reporters: "It looks like it, yes.
"We have to really seriously consider him now after this good strong result," said the Briton, explaining that Kobayashi's chances are as good as 80 per cent.
Howett confessed he had harboured some doubts about Kobayashi, who despite winning the last GP2 Asia championship, has been less impressive in the F1 feeder category's main series.
"I think it's a definite lesson that sometimes we all should be braver in our driver choices and not go for the safer, risk-hedged decision," he said.
Toyota cannot sign any drivers for next season until its 2010 budget is rubber-stamped at an executive board meeting in Tokyo in two weeks.