Nakajima: we are convinced Hungary could be our track 01 Aug 2008
It might not have been a dream season so far for the Williams team, but their rookie driver Kazuki Nakajima is quite thrilled about his own progress. With eight points in the bank and tied with more experienced team mate Nico Rosberg in the standings, things have turned out well for the 23 year-old. And when Nakajima reflects on the FW30s strengths, he feels confident that this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix could well see him finish in the points again
Q: Kazuki, you have 11 races under your belt and eight points on your balance sheet. Its not a bad yield for your rookie season. Are you satisified?
Kazuki Nakajima: Of course I am quite satisfied with my result and the season so far. That I could score points four times is honestly more than I expected. I have to say I am pretty happy.
Q: When you say that it is more than you expected, what did you expect?
KN: I thought it would be very tough to come across points. Actually, it is very tough but I think I was able to find the right time - sometimes. Australia was a very lucky race for me but in Barcelona I think I did a proper job to win four points. The Monaco and Silverstone events were two very difficult races, but I was able to finish and score points. At the moment when I see where we normally qualify it is very difficult to score and obviously we need races like Silverstone. But when Ive had the chance Ive been there.
Q: Your more experienced team mate Nico also has eight points. Are you surprised you are on the same tally?
KN: Yes, I can say I am kind of surprised, but he had some bad races like Monaco and Montreal where he should have scored points, but for me its pretty cool to be even with my team mate because in the end thats what counts. For a rookie this is quite satisfying and I must say it gives me a rush of self confidence.
Q: The results suggest that in the first couple of races the car was slightly more competitive. Do you share that view and why do you think the car is performing less well now?
KN: I am not sure what the reason for that is. Maybe the other teams have developed their car faster. I would say that from Barcelona on, we started to have difficulties pushing in qualifying. But tracks like Monaco and Montreal suited our car and I think in the next few months we will have some good races and some bad - depending on the track.
Q: It will be your first time driving a Formula One car on the Hungaroring. Do you think your inexperience will handicap you?
KN: Yes, it is my first time with an F1 car - but I raced here in GP2 last year so it is not a completely unfamiliar track for me. For sure compared to some other drivers, who have been racing here for many years, I might have a bit of a handicap, but I dont think that this will really matter. And we have a simulator in the factory, which I have done quite a lot of work on.
Q: At last weeks test you worked on set-up for this race and indicated that this track should suit the FW30. What did you focus on?
KN: At tracks like Monaco and Montreal where you have less grip, or where you have softer tyres, like at this track here, in these situations we have been quite good so this gives me hope for Sundays race. Well, the track in Jerez is quite different to this one but we did some set-up tests and the next few days will show if we have tested successfully.
Q: We are in the second half of the season, so the wide-eyed excitement of your rookie year must have subsided a bit. Have you acclimatized to the team and to the paddock yet?
KN: Yes, I am feeling that more and more. I have spent more than one year with the team and I must say that I feel very comfortable. And yes, the sensation of being an F1 driver has given way to a normal working mode. And I almost know the name of everyone in the team now!
Q: How much advice has your father given you in that process?
KN: To be honest, not very much. The advice that hes given me has focused more on mental strength and attitude as a driver. Theres not been much to do with the driving because its been a pretty long time since he raced and the cars of today have very little to do with those my father was drove.
Q: You are now the only active Japanese Formula One driver. How has this fact changed you life back home?
KN: I am not sure because I have not seen any difference but maybe it is different in Japan. I have not been there for a long time so I may see a change when I go back home. I probably have a bit more responsibility now.
Q: After this weekend Formula One has its annual summer break. What are your plans?
KN: I think for the first half of the break I will simply relax and for the second half I will start preparations for the race in Valencia, where I think it will be very, very hot. For relaxation I will go back to Japan - so maybe then I will feel the difference of being the only Japanese driver.
Q: We could also have a hot race this weekend. You are confident, but in terms of numbers where do you expect to qualify and finish?
KN: As we are convinced that this could be our track, finishing in the points is the objective. For qualifying, this means clocking a time closer to the top ten - and in the race it means being able to walk away with a number of points!
Q: And how do you personally deal with the heat? Any secret strategy?
KN: Not really. The formula is drinking a lot and what I personally do is to cool down my room in the motorhome so that I head for the start feeling chilly and refreshed. The sweat will come later!