In the half-term driver rankings I picked Kazuki Nakajima out as the most impressive rookie of the season so far.
He has only started ten Grands Prix to date but has scored points on four occasions. Could he become the best Japanese driver since Takuma Sato?
At the end of last year I thought Toyota’s decision to move Nakajima into F1 with Williams, their engine customers, was too hasty. Nakajima was top rookie in GP2 in 2007 but hadn’t won a race and had made several rash mistakes.
His first two races seemed to agree with my assessment – he hit his pit crew on his debut for Williams at Interlagos last year, and in the first race of 2008 drove into Robert Kubica during a safety ar period.
Since then he’s cut down on the number of incidents and his potential is beginning to become clear. Even at Melbourne he hung in amid the carnage for a fine sixth.
And which Williams driver scored points in the downpour at Silverstone this weekend? Clue: it wasn’t Nico Rosberg. In fact, Nakajima was the only driver still nursing a set of extreme wets at the end, the sorry state of which prevented him from being to stop Jarno Trulli passing him for seventh on the final lap.
Nakajima is the son of Saturo Nakajima who was a competent F1 racer but owed much of his time in the sport to patrons Honda. The younger Nakajima is backed by Toyota, but the sparks of talent we’ve seen so far prove he’s not just in F1 for marketing reasons. That said, with the form he’s shown so far Toyota may want to bring him home from Williams sooner rather than later.
How do you rate Kazuki Nakajima?
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