Toyota link helps steer Nakajima to Williams job
Thursday 08 November 2007
The fact that Sir Frank Williams preferred rookie Kazuki Nakajima to established racer Tonio Liuzzi as partner to Nico Rosberg for 2008 is an indication of the once great British team's need to observe financial realities.
To date the 22-year-old Japanese driver has finished on the podium once in the GP2 junior category; Liuzzi won its equivalent, the F3000 series, by dominating in 2004. But Nakajima is a Toyota driver, and therein lies the truth behind his selection: as an independent at a time when manufacturer-supported teams are doing all the winning, Williams have to do all they can to please the company that lease them engines.
For the young racer, a wheel turned full circle in Brazil last October as he made his grand prix debut with the team as the replacement for Austrian Alex Wurz. Nakajima's father, Satoru, himself a Honda protégé, raced in F1 in the Eighties and Nineties for Lotus and Tyrrell.
"I think it was not the best way to follow him, I have to have my own identity," the younger Nakajima says. "But my brother has just started racing, and he is with Honda."
Despite his father's career, it was his own decision to start racing, and it took a while to get into his blood. "I was really enjoying driving karts. But it was still just for fun, not for my future career. Then when I was in high school I had a chance to join a racing school which was run by Toyota, and for which there was a chance I could win a scholarship for Formula Toyota.
"I tried once, and failed. I was not good enough and also I think my mind was not ready to fit into that situation, it was not 100 per cent focused on the future."
Subsequently, however, he changed that mind-set and became more focused. "I began thinking about the future, and I tried the school again and won the scholarship."
Clinching the Formula Toyota Championship in 2003 set him on his way, and was followed by Formula Three and then GP2 last year. When the chance arose to work with Williams as test driver this year, he made the most of the opportunity.
"For me it was not too difficult to fit in, and also I got a lot of help from the engineers. Even for GP2 I could get help, I could ask their advice. I just tried to make the most of my situation."
Daniel Sturridge injury: Alongside Luis Suarez, how the Liverpool SAS may FAIL to become the most lethal partnership in Premier League history
Barcelona v Real Madrid: Copa del Rey final 2014 match preview
Diego Costa transfer to Chelsea impossible to stop, admits Diego Simeone
Hillsborough disaster anniversary: Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez among those at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 who lost their lives
Daniel Sturridge injury latest: Liverpool striker has 'small strain' and will be given chance to prove fitness for Norwich game
- 1 Poveglia: 'World's most haunted island' up for auction...is anyone brave enough to buy it?
- 2 Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
- 3 Naked yoga: the bare truth - it's already big in the US, and has now landed here
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline bribed doctors to boost sales, says whistleblower
David Cameron: 'Jesus invented the Big Society – I'm just continuing God's work'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'