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Nakajima name back on F1 map after strong debut

SAO PAULO, Oct 22 (Reuters) Japan's Kazuki Nakajima followed in the footsteps of his father with a race debut in Brazil that put him on the Formula One map as a future prospect.

Satoru Nakajima made his debut with Lotus Honda at the 1987 Brazilian Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro and 20 years later it was his 22-year-old son's turn at Interlagos in a Toyota-powered Williams yesterday.

Starting 19th, he finished 10th.

Williams technical director Sam Michael said the youngster, replacing Alex Wurz after the Austrian decided to retire following the previous Chinese round, had a promising future.

''He had a dreadful qualifying yesterday, it was very poor and we weren't very happy about that,'' he told Reuters. ''But today he redeemed himself and more.

''He set fifth fastest race lap, faster than (team mate) Nico (Rosberg) and (McLaren's double world champion Fernando) Alonso and he did the whole last stint in the mid to low 13s.

''It was very impressive pace in the race and he overtook two or three cars,'' said Michael.

''He couldn't have done a better job today really, although he didn't score any points. He really put himself back on the map.

''With a performance like that I'm quite sure that he'll race in Formula One. When, I don't know.'' Williams have yet to announce a permanent replacement for Wurz, with the Formula One driver merry-go-round waiting for McLaren to decide on Spaniard Alonso's future with them.

The only blot on Nakajima's race was when he hit several Williams mechanics on his first pitstop when the car suddenly skewed sideways. They were receiving treatment, with one giving a thumbs-up as he was taken away on a stretcher.

''It was a good first race for me but it was slightly overshadowed,'' said Nakajima. ''I really enjoyed the race and I did well physically.'' REUTERS RAR AS1012

Story first published: Wednesday, October 24, 2007, 12:59 [IST]
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