Nico Rosberg drove a series of what he called 'qualifying laps' to deliver Williams their first point in four races – and his first since Turkey back in May – by finishing eighth in the European Grand Prix in Valencia at the weekend.
Williams has suffered as the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship campaign has progressed, struggling to match the development pace of its immediate, far better-funded rivals and losing significant ground in the scrap over fourth place in the constructors' title chase.
The multiple championship-winning Grove-based outfit travelled to the new Juan Carlos I Marina circuit with higher hopes than of late, however, expecting its FW30 chassis to perform well around the harbour-side track's winding streets – given Rosberg's starring qualifying performance around the similarly-natured Monaco earlier this year – and in starting ninth and finishing eighth, the young German duly delivered.
“I'm pretty happy with that,” the 23-year-old reflected afterwards. “It's good to be going home with a point, as it's been a long time since it happened. The race went quite well for me and I was giving it my all, driving what felt like qualifying laps one after the other.
“The result is also good for the team, as it shows we are getting back on-track. Once again, I would like to say that Valencia has done a great job here and the race was good fun.”
Team-mate Kazuki Nakajima could also have been expected to produce a good result in F1's maiden race around Spain's third city, but the Japanese rookie ran into the back of the Renault of Fernando Alonso during the course of a frenetic opening lap – leaving him subsequently playing catch-up all the way to the chequered flag.
“I had a bad start,” the former GP2 Series front-runner admitted, “and we have to find the reason for that. On lap one, going into turns four and five, I was just behind Alonso, but there was a bit of a battle going on in front and I couldn't avoid him going into the corner.
“After that, I just tried to be consistent. My pace was okay, but I was behind [Rubens] Barrichello and it was really difficult to overtake. Eventually I made it past him and my pace improved, but it was too late.”
“With the reliability of the cars these days, one point is what you can expect from starting ninth and eleventh on the grid,” summarised Williams' director of engineering Patrick Head. “Kazuki went into anti-stall at the start, which lost him a lot of places. He then had to pit for a new front wing, which put paid to what would have been a one-stop race.
“Nico squeezed everything he could out of the car. Unfortunately, we missed out on seventh place with him by a few fractions of a second in his second pit-stop. We now have to return to the factory to find those few tenths.”