Interview with Williams Kazuki Nakajima 11 Oct 2007
Of all the circuits to make your Formula One race debut on, Interlagos has to be one of the toughest. With its bumpy surface and anti-clockwise direction, the Brazilian track will certainly test debutant Kazuki Nakajima to his limits.
Nakajima reveals his thoughts on hearing the news of his late call up to a Williams race seat and discusses making his debut in the same country that his father, Satoru, did 20 years ago
Q: So, congratulations are in order Kazuki! You must be very excited about driving in Brazil?
Kazuki Nakajima: Im really excited, and I have to say many thanks to the team for giving me this opportunity. Now, Im just really looking forward to getting to Brazil and making the most of it. Im quite relaxed at the moment, but theres still plenty of time to get nervous!
Q: How did you feel when you took the call?
KN: I had mixed feelings, I suppose. In one respect, I was really happy and excited because its a dream come true, but the sport has also lost a great driver in Alex Wurz and I know the team were all very fond of him. Patrick (Head) told me the news; I havent spoken to Frank (Williams) yet but Im looking forward to a conversation with him this week before the race. They arent putting any pressure on me, theyve said its not a test for a seat next year, its just this race.
Q: Interlagos is quite a challenge, how are you preparing for it?
KN: Im spending a day at the factory this week on the simulator, and with the engineers talking everything through. Itll be my first time racing on the track and many people have told me its very bumpy. Its also anti-clockwise, so Ive just been clocking the miles on the sim in preparation. Fortunately, I have quite a lot of time before the race so I can be well prepared.
Q: As you mentioned, Brazil is an anti-clockwise circuit and therefore something of a greater challenge. Are you making more trips to the gym than usual?
KN: Definitely. Im putting the hours in and training a lot harder than usual to give myself the best possible chance. Im really working on the left hand-side of my neck as well. Im not sure quite how tough its going to be, but I imagine its going to be a real challenge so Im really pushing as hard as I can on my preparation work.
Q: Xevi Pujolar will be your race engineer, have you worked together in the past?
KN: Xevi was my engineer when I drove in the US and in Malaysia for Fridays free practice. Weve also done a couple of tests together so we know each other well and have a good working relationship which will stand us in good stead straight away.
Q: What expectations are you placing on yourself for the race?
KN: At the moment, Im not laying any goals out for myself. If I can get points it would be great but I know its not that easy. I will just do my best. The most difficult aspect will be qualifying. When I watched it in China, it was just so competitive. Ill be concentrating hard to get through to Q2, but even that is a challenge. Ill just take one step at a time.
Q: Are you flying out early to acclimatise?
KN: Im flying out on Friday night and arrive on Saturday morning. On Sunday, Im involved in a PR event in Rio for Petrobras which will give me a good chance to spend some time adapting to the time difference. Its my first trip to Brazil and Ill get to experience two of its best cities while Im there which Im really excited about.
Q: Your father drove in Formula One racing for five seasons, what was his reaction to the news?
KN: He sounded like he was quite happy! Strangely enough, he made his debut in Formula One in Brazil as well, not on the same track, but it was 20 years ago this year. He also finished seventh. If I could do that it would be two points and a great result for me and for the team in their fight for fourth in the constructors. He wont be coming to the race because he has commitments with his racing team in Japan, but Im sure hell be watching.
Q: You had a good season in GP2 this year and youve just been named rookie of the year. Do you feel its given you a solid grounding for Formula One racing?
KN: It was a really good season for me, but it wasnt perfect. I missed out on a lot of points, particularly in Monza and at Spa, but before that I had been on the podium quite a few times. One of the highlights was the last race in Valencia when I was in pole position. I didnt win the race, unfortunately, but it was great to be on pole for the final round. Finishing the season as rookie of the year was also a great way to end. Ive definitely learnt a lot from GP2, above all its allowed me to improve my race craft and Ill be drawing from that in Brazil.