F1 community responds to Japan tragedy

2011 F1 season

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Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2010

F1 drivers and team members expressed sorrow following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

Michael Schumacher said on his official website: “We are all in a total shock and horror after what has been happening to the people of Japan.

“It is just terrible to see all the damage and agony. Even if that is very little, I would like them to know that my thoughts and compassion are with them. I suffer with all the people who have lost familiy members or friends, and I wish them a lot of strength to overcome this terrible catastrophe.”

Peter Sauber said: “The events in Japan have come as a huge shock to everyone in the team. We are stunned and find it difficult to believe what we are seeing.

“We feel we are helpless and realise how weak we are by comparison with the forces of nature. Our thoughts are with the people in Japan with whom we have a special relationship through our driver Kamui Kobayashi.

“We hope that the Japanese people will have the strength necessary to overcome these circumstances of extreme adversity.”

Kobayashi said last week: “My country has suffered an enormous catastrophe. The news is depressing and I’m very sad.”

Jenson Button, whose girlfriend Jessica Michibata’s mother is Japanese, urged followers of Twitter account to donate money to to a charity in Japan:

“A charity that I know is working hard right now is ‘Peace Winds Japan’ which is a charity that provides shelter, blankets, food and water so basically what we need to survive plus so much more.

“Please check out their website http://www.peace-winds.org/en. All the money that you donate goes directly to the people that have been effected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan.”

Fernando Alonso said last week that “Confronted with a tragedy like the one that has struck Japan today, Formula 1 and all its problems to do with tyres, wings and engines is way down the list of priorities and today, my thoughts go first and foremost to the victims and their families.”

Among the other drivers to respond was former F1 racer Alexander Wurz, who said he was urging members of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association to help support the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

Image © Sauber F1 Team

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “F1 community responds to Japan tragedy”

  1. I’m sure of the drivers that are paid to drive for their respective teams could give up a day’s wages and donate them to charities. That’ll be responding to the earthquake and tsunami. Words of sympathy and respect dont really have a lot of punch when coming from such well off people.

    1. Just because they have not told the press about it, doesn’t mean they haven’t all individually done more than that already.

      1. Of course, but when celebrities and sports stars ramble on about disasters, I find it a little insulting. I hope they have done the right thing and have donated a bit of money.

        1. Michael Schumacher has previously contributed. He did donate $10 million to the victims of tsunami. It is estimated that his charitable donations total more than $50 million. I believe he and the other drivers have made donation for this tragedy.

        2. Celebrities never come out and say that they’ve given money because that invites countless requests for donations, plus it’s totally their own business how much they give to which cause. I would find it a lot more insulting if they came out and said “I gave so you should too.” I’m quite sure that in situations like this the very rich give the support they feel they should without telling everyone about it, and if they can use the means at their disposal to encourage others to do the same then all the better. I’m no fan of celebrity culture, but just because they’re rich doesn’t mean they don’t have a heart.

    2. Maybe James should donate his paycheck too.

      1. I barely earn enough to get by as it is, but dont worry, I’ve donated as much as I can. Thanks for the suggestion though.

        1. We can’t really accuse them of anything since we don’t know. They could have given half their fortune or nothing. We just don’t know. We hope that they are willing to give something from the millions they have and that goes even more for rich successful businessmen who are a lot richer than even the most highly payed sportsmen.

    3. Hopefully it raises awareness though to make people donate that wouldn’t have donated otherwise:


      If you do want to give something, the British Red Cross is accepting donations on the above link.

  2. I think Sakon Yamamoto is making a good effort to ralley some support going as well.

    Good to see the F1 world cares. Shame it will not help as much as we would all wish it would

  3. Nice to see that the F1 world is responding.I hope the little they can bring together will help.

    Another news
    There were talks that due to the radiation leak there may be some rain in Asia & is it asked not to get yourself wet in it. So people take care.

    1. the radiation rain rumour is not true.

      if there is a threat of irradiated rain, then the fallout in Japan must be enormous (bigger than Chernobyl to effect other countries) Clearly that is not the case.

      this rumour is spreading fast nevertheless. like all rumours in the age of social media.

    2. Asia is massive and Japan is on an island. The rain would in all likelihood, only effect Japan, and not the rest of Asia.

  4. I think this calls for another black nosecone from someone – Sauber, given Kobayashi’s presence – like Ferrari at Monza in 2001.

    1. It would be a nice gesture, but it kind of sets a precedent. There were no black nose cones after the Haiti earthquake last year, no out pourings of grief from the F1 community after the cyclone hit Burma back in 2008. In both cases, far more people died than are dead or missing in Japan. So why should Japan be any different?

      I’m not having a go at you in particular about this PM, just the sense I get that Japanese lives seem to matter more to people than Haitans/ Burmese/ etc.

      1. What was the first race after each of those disasters? If there is a long period after the disaster, it’s kind of hard for the gesture to mean anything.

        1. I dont think there was anything for Hurricane Katrina, and that was a big event. I know Jarno Trulli paid his own respects after the Italian quake, but otherwise not a lot.

        2. Haiti I think was early in the year, before the start of the season, but Burma was in May. Those are just examples, though, you can come up with any amounts of natural catastrophes that have been comparitively ignored

          1. Yer its a good point but its impossible it effects us more when it happens to a country which is as advanced as Japan or New Zealand, it affects our own sense of security. Also F1 has very strong ties to Japan and doubtless everyone in the F1 paddock is thinking of those they know in Japan.

      2. Is it wrong to suggest that their are selfish reasons for the huge publicity of Japan aid? I mean all the big developed nations (USA, U, Germany ect) need the Japanese economy to return to normal in order for said big nations to avoid re-entering recession.

    2. Something like this? http://yfrog.com/h8ii8vpj

      Nice touch Takuma Sato.

      1. I’d be surprised if Kobayashi’s Sauber didn’t have something similar at Melbourne.

  5. haha, i expected vettel to not have any say in this, and its true! but, why has webber not expressed his views on this tragedy? anyway, good to see F1 is responding to this situation and i would like to see the drivers donate some money as well and not just talk! Why cant they donate a fraction of their income? they can put all the driver’s donations together and give it to Japan’s people who are in such a bad state now! an earthquake, a tsunami, 3 explosions at the nuclear reactors, what more do u want?

    1. Mark has expressed his concern on twitter

  6. Perhaps give all proceeds and race fee from the Japanese Grand Prix (if it goes ahead) directly back to the charities involved.

    As for why F1 is more involved with this tragedy then others is probably due to closer links to the country. Japan has been on the calender for several years now and provided several drivers in the past. Not saying whether it is right or wrong, just explaining why there is a closer link to Japan.

  7. If I remember rightly Michael Schumacher lost his bodyguard in the Boxing Day Tsunami and gave one of the largest donations following that tragedy

    It would be great to see F1 doing something to raise some money as Japan has always been a huge supporter of the sport. There was a one-off tennis fundraiser a couple of years ago(i think for Haiti), so maybe a kart event or similar?

    1. yea, it was something around 10m.

  8. Nice words from the drivers. I myself will donate at the end of the month when i’ve been paid.

  9. Good on Jenson button. If any of his followers on Twitter donate some money then good on them.

    We have to remember that a lot of drivers do contribute towards charities and dont publicise it (i.e I remember hearing that Heikki outbid everyone for something at a charity do, but you never hear he is bragging about it).

    I’ll be donating when I get paid. Terrible footage, and a reminder that in the UK we are relatively safe from natural disasters when compared to those who live on and close to fault lines.

    1. Yes, Heikki was the biggest bidder at Monaco GP charity auction around 300.000 euros.

  10. Keith what does this mean for the japanese gp later on this year?

    1. It’s seven months off so it remains to be seen.

      Moto GP have postponed their race at Motegi, but that was supposed to be next month and Motegi is much closer to the epicentre than Suzuka.

      For obvious reasons they have more important things to worry about at the moment, but I doubt anyone can say for sure what situation they’ll be in a few months down the line.

      The Moto GP race is postponed to October, so they must have some level of expectation that a race might be able to take place then.

      1. Suzuka is over 300 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

    2. I hope the race stays on the calendar. It’s bad enough that we lost Bahrain (which isn’t a bad circuit on the original layout). It would be a shame to lose a classic track like Suzuka as well.

      No, I’m not being insensitive to the people of Bahrain or Japan. The organisers of the Japanese GP would be perfectly justified if they cancelled the race. I just hope it would be possible for the race to go on as scheduled.

      1. Can the Japanese government really afford Bernie’s price tag now?

  11. The drivers who donate quietly will be the true heroes.

    And what about the Japanese GP, should it go on?
    I’d feel very guilty racing in Japan. Who needs F1 in Japan this year.


    1. If the GP does bring any economic benefit to the country in general then surely it would cause extra harm for Japan to not stage it at all? Of course if overall the race ends up costing the country money then it would make sense to not hold it.

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