Kazuki Nakajima will mark the first anniversary of his Formula 1 debut in this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos – and the Japanese rookie is aiming to do so in style, by registering his sixth points-scoring finish of a generally positive maiden campaign.
Nakajima has impressed on occasion in 2008, and the 23-year-old justified Williams' faith in him by recovering from a poor qualifying effort to run well on his very first appearance in the top flight this time last year, even lapping faster than his highly-rated team-mate Nico Rosberg along the way. A similar result this time around – albeit with points at the end of it – would be just the ticket, he admits.
“This race marks my first anniversary in Formula 1,” the former GP2 Series front-runner reflected, “and I can't believe how quickly it's gone! I've certainly learnt a lot and I'll be using that experience in Brazil this weekend.
“This race will be easier than some of the others this season because I actually have experience of racing at Interlagos. The track itself is fairly challenging, but it's really exciting to drive. Our car worked well in Brazil last year, and I hope that's the case on Sunday and we have a better race than we did in Japan and China.
“I headed straight back to the UK after Shanghai, so I've had the chance to spend some time at home and also to do some work with my engineers at the factory in preparation for this weekend's race. It was a busy time for me in Asia with lots of marketing commitments, so the break was nice!”
Nakajima's enthusiasm is not shared to quite such a high degree, however, by Rosberg, who is keen simply to get a torrid campaign over and done with. The young German has further enhanced his burgeoning reputation with some standout qualifying and race performances in 2008 but – with a mere 17 points on the board – has little to really show for it, his inspired Melbourne and Singapore podiums aside. The 23-year-old fears it could be more of the same in São Paulo.
“Interlagos is a really fun track to drive,” he explained, “as it has a bit of everything – gradient changes, a complete mix of corners and it runs in an anti-clockwise direction which presents a different challenge for the drivers. We had a strong race there last year and I finished fourth.
“As we haven't had a great showing in the past two races, it would be nice to do well again here and end the season on a positive note. It's going to be difficult with this year's harder tyres, and we'll have to cover a lot of ground with the car on Friday to get to the optimum set-up.
“After the long trip to Asia, I've spent the past week in New York training and spending time with my girlfriend who's over there working at the moment. As the Big Apple is in a similar time zone to São Paulo, and I'm now over any jet-lag after the trip to Asia, I'm in a good position going to Brazil later this week. It will be busy for me, but I'm ready for the final round!”