Exclusive Q&A - Nakajima on his best-ever qualifying 20 Jun 2009
Williams Kazuki Nakajima has been a little bit short on luck this season. Despite two top-ten starts he has yet to score a single point. However, Sundays British Grand Prix could change all that. Starting from P5 the odds have never been better for the young Japanese - and he is willing to grab his chance with both hands
Q: Kazuki, today was your best qualifying result of your Formula One career. How does that feel?
Kazuki Nakajima: It felt wow! Firstly I want to say many thanks to the team because theyve brought a very good package that is clearly a step forward and that allowed me and Nico (Rosberg) to perform better. In Q3 I was really nervous going out for the second timed lap and after that I managed to get out for a third timed lap that finally got me P5 on the grid, which you can imagine made me very happy.
Q: The teams technical director Sam Michael recently said that position six in the constructors championship does not reflect the real performance of the FW31. What is your impression?
KN: I agree with Sam. For many reasons we didnt manage to get proper results so far because obviously even for me there have been chances for good results - or even a podium like in Australia. And there have been other races where I failed to score, like in Monaco or in Turkey, so I think that team performance-wise we should be the third or fourth power on the grid. But from what weve seen so far this weekend, in terms of stepping up in performance I believe that we can reach that situation by the end of the season.
Q: The car seems to be distinctively different this weekend. What is new? Obviously it delivered
KN: Yep, the new parts that the engineers brought for this weekend really delivered. We have a new front wing, a different floor and diffuser - all the aero package is basically new - and these couple of things make a big change. That is why we look much better here than at the last race.
Q: So far this season youve made it into Q3 twice and come close at the other six races. That should have been good enough to collect some points, yet there is still a zero against your name. Why is that?
KN: Basically there have been many reasons. Take for example Australia where I unfortunately crashed. Then in Malaysia, Bahrain and Barcelona my qualifying position hampered me as I had many cars in front of me running with KERS, which made them very competitive at the start so that after one lap I had no chance to challenge them. In Monaco and Turkey I had a realistic chance to score points, so lets hope that this weekend it will become reality. Probably my real season - the one that Ive envisioned - starts here in Silverstone. P5 is a good position to start and as I dont expect to face cars running KERS, as it wouldnt make sense because the distance to the first corner is very short, it is looking pretty good for tomorrow.
Q: It is no secret that in practice the two Williams are always quite light and thus always on top of the timesheets. Nico said that hes not quite sure if that really helps the team, as although it is undoubtedly a morale boost, it doesnt show the reality
KN: Well, it is always good to give a boost to the team. True, we had some chats about the strategy, but I always felt comfortable with it as my main target is qualifying and for that Ive always preferred to run on low fuel. So I never had a problem with that. And here weve actually been able to match practice and qualifying performance.
Q: The saying goes that the team mate is the first challenger. How would you judge your performance compared to Nicos? In qualifying today you clearly kept him at bay
KN: Yeah - although I still think that hes a bit quicker in qualifying. But not this time! Especially in Q2 I managed to stay ahead of him, so that made everything easier for Q3. I know that I still have to improve but I also feel that now it is coming my way - so I feel that everything will be better for the end of the season.
Q: The tyres are always a concern, especially on a track like Silverstone. Did you face any issues?
KN: At the moment the issue is the warm-up of the tyres, especially today in qualifying, but I am confident that for the race everything is under control. I will go through the data with the engineers to see what tyre strategy we will be running on, but what I can say spontaneously is that in terms of consistency it isnt looking bad, so the race should be ok.
Q: Silverstone is the teams home Grand Prix, which makes the race extra special. Where do you see yourself tomorrow after the chequered flag?
KN: I dont have the gift of looking into the future, but I would say that keeping my (starting) position should be a realistic goal. Keep the fingers crossed!