Exclusive interview - Williams Kazuki Nakajima 26 Apr 2008
A repeat in qualifying may be unlikely, but fourth place in Fridays second practice session was a pretty presentable result - especially for a rookie driver. No wonder then that Williams driver Kazuki Nakajima was all smiles talking to the media afterwards.
Finishing ahead of much-lauded team mate Nico Rosberg must have been a boost for his self-confidence - and outpacing the likes of Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen is a moment he will treasure for some time
Q: Kazuki, it seems to have been a quite positive afternoon for you. Satisfied with the set-up of the car?
Kazuki Nakajima: Yeah, it was a very good session. We had tried some set-up variations and I got the better end of it. I am quite confident for Saturday as in the end the times in the free practice sessions are difficult to judge and are never the ultimate indication of where a team stands - it is qualifying that separates the wheat from the chaff. So lets wait until Saturday afternoon.
Q: Looks like your strong testing commitment - the many laps that you put in last week at this track - has paid off?
KN: Oh yes. The new releases on the FW30 are a real step forward so we should be able to be looking for a good result in qualifying and then in the race.
Q: Indeed, at many tests this year you did the most laps of any driver. It seems Williams want you to get as much experience as quickly as possible
KN: Yes, could be. But we also did so much mileage to test the reliability of the car. And it pays off.
Q: You are with a team that seems to be on track to return to the winning their ways of their past. How do you see your position in the team? The junior partner to Nico Rosberg?
KN: Well, I am a rookie driver and still have a lot to learn. But my target naturally is to do the same job as Nico. Probably I have a little bit more space to make mistakes - that obviously is the benefit of being a rookie driver - but this phase naturally does not last forever.
Q: Melbourne was only your second Formula One race and you scored three points - in an afternoon that claimed a lot of experienced names. How did that feel?
KN: It felt really great because to score points is a big moment for a driver - especially as scoring points has become pretty hard these days. But actually straight after the race I was not so happy as I had a coming-together with Robert (Kubica). It had to sink in, but once it did the feeling was quite overwhelming.
Q: Last year we saw two very different rookie career paths: Lewis Hamilton going straight to the podium and Heikki Kovalainen struggling at the outset. How do you think your first season will evolve?
KN: True, last year was really an extreme rookie season. I personally do understand what happened with Heikki. It is not easy to come to grip with all the procedures in F1 so it is quite easy to find yourself in a struggling position. For me I would be very satisfied if I could end this season as Heikki did last year: to catch up in performance and to achieve a certain portion of self-confidence caused by results.
Q: Youve joined an exclusive club; drivers whose fathers were drivers. Really, how much of an influence has your father been on your career? Did you decide you wanted to be a race driver because of him - or in spite of him?
KN: I would clearly say that I didnt become a driver because of my father, but my father sure was the reason that I got interested in motorsport. So you could say it is related to my father but the fascination for racing - really knowing that I was determined to sit in a cockpit and take the challenge out on a track - was my decision. But then you could probably say it is in my DNA.
Q: You must have grown up in a motorsport environment. Did that inside view help you to find your way around better?
KN: Maybe, yes. I basically grew up at a circuit, so it was much easier for me to learn to understand the basics of motorsport. But watching from outside and racing is a whole new ball game. Sure my father helped me a lot in the initial stages of my career, and I have been supported by Toyota for a long time. Actually it was fantastic to grow under the Toyota umbrella and knowing I have their full backing.