Without a doubt the Japanese Grand Prix will be the biggest weekend of Kazuki Nakajima's career so far. Not only will it be the Williams man's first time in front of his public as an F1 driver, but he's also the only local hero in the race, following the demise of Super Aguri earlier this season.
For six seasons, from 2002 to 2007, Takuma Sato was the darling of the crowd, firing up his countrymen to an extent that had never been seen before. Had Sato still been in the entry list, Kazuki would very much have been the second attraction. But now he has the chance to win the hearts and minds of the public.
The timing couldn't be better. Last week Williams announced that Nakajima would be staying on alongside Nico Rosberg in 2009, underlining the respect with which he is now held within his team. The decision came hot on the heels of a good performance in Singapore, where he qualified in the top 10 for the first time, and returned to the points after a recent spell of misfortune.