Start, Suzuka, 2018

Osaka mayor wants to hold Japan’s first F1 street race

2019 F1 season

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The mayor of Japan’s third-largest city wants it to hold a Formula 1 street race on a man-made island which will host the 2025 World Exposition.

In a press conference on Thursday mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said “we would very much like to realise the Osaka F1 Grand Prix” on Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay, according to Japan Today.

Yoshimura is looking for backers to invest in the project to build an entertainment complex including a casino on the island.

“If we can attract investment from the world, we’ll be able to achieve things we currently can’t realize in Japan,” said Yoshimura. “Racing on a street circuit might be achievable at Yumeshima.”

“It would be difficult to use regular asphalt roads,” he added. “We should develop better quality ones.”

Such an event would be Formula 1’s first street race in Japan. The Japanese Grand Prix is currently held at Suzuka, which has hosted 30 world championship events since 1987. The series has also visited Fuji four times for the Japanese Grand Prix, and twice held the Pacific Grand Prix at Okayama International Circuit (formerly Tanaka International Aida).

Last year Suzuka extended its contract to hold the Japanese Grand Prix until 2021, with sponsorship from circuit owners Honda. However no Japanese driver has raced in the championship since Kamui Kobayashi with Caterham five years ago.

The 1967 World Expo was held on an artificial island on the Isle Notre Dame in Montreal, which is now the venue for the Canadian Grand Prix. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is also held on the man-made island of Yas.

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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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13 comments on “Osaka mayor wants to hold Japan’s first F1 street race”

  1. If this in addition to Suzuka, sure. In place of Suzuka, no. Arigato.

    1. Osaka City-Suzuka is less than 100 miles. Too close, so it’s likely a replacement. Unless its very different venue, like parking building.

    2. Nope! Nuh-Uh! No Way! not in place of Suzuka!

    3. While where at it, lets have a street race around Brussels instead of Spa.

  2. F1 had its fair share of criticism in the last years, but it remains as a coveted event that many cities wants to hold.
    As a annual event, there is the Super Bowl for US, the Champions Final for Europe.
    Outside that, maybe only MotoGP can attract that much attention to a city as much as F1.
    Many of those announcement are just smoke but they show the interest.
    I am not sure if some of the new venues we’ve saw in the last years took more than gave from F!.

  3. Subject sugestion for racefans: why so few japanese drivers get a seat in F1 – what is the barrier?.
    They seem to have stable junior series and many autorracing fans.
    Many companies involved in F1 are Japanese – so there are potential sponsors.
    I’m not sure if there is a car culture in Japan similar to Europe’s or America’s.
    Sometimes, it seems that motorracing is an activity for people from Western Europe and British Isles – with the exception of the the guys born elsewhere with parents from those places (Australia, North/South America).
    Will we never see the great chinese driver as fewer young people are interested in cars?

    1. @maiagus
      That is a very good question. To which I don’t have an answer. But I would be interested in reading an article that attempts to answer it…!

    2. maiagus, there have been a reasonable number of Japanese drivers in the past, with the 1990s being a period when you’d usually see a couple of Japanese drivers on the grid during the season – that has fallen a bit in more recent times though.

      Part of it is likely to be because, with the problems the Japanese economy ran into in the 1990s, which continued to hamper the Japanese economy well into the late 2000s, it became progressively more difficult for Japanese drivers to raise the necessary funding to get through the junior series and into F1.

      Part of it also seems to be the fact that the Japanese Formula 3 title was considered to be a viable alternative to the European series, perhaps in part because of the stagnation of Formula 3000. However, in the 2000s the creation of the GP2 series and the rise of other alternative series, such as Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5 series, seem to have gradually displaced the Japanese series over time – perhaps in part because the technical regulations used in Japan have progressively diverged from those used in Europe over time, and the way that the FIA has shaped their regulations for European racing series has aligned them more closely with that of Formula 1 than the Japanese series have over time.

      There is perhaps also an argument that the rise of the Super GT Series over time has also made Japanese drivers focus more on their national racing series, since that now offers a reasonably lucrative national racing series to compete in.

      Also, after Honda and Toyota both pulled out of F1 in the 2000s, there was a period when there were no Japanese manufacturers supporting the series. That has now changed with Honda’s return to the sport, but Toyota’s efforts in the WEC does also, to some extent, split the attentions of up and coming Japanese drivers who may head for sportscar racing instead.

    3. This isn’t really a direct answer to your question, but about 15 years ago there was an anime and manga series called Capeta that follows a young boy as he climbs the Japanese karting ranks into F3. It’s a series aimed at Japanese teens, but its attention to detail as he learns racecraft concepts like racing lines and downforce settings is quite impressive. It’s the kind of thing that would convert lots of kids into fans by teaching them the fundamental concepts of racing. It also shows you a slice of Japanese car culture—it could only have been created by a true petrolhead, and is full of references to other Japanese car culture touchstones like Initial D. If you want to see what the junior formulas look like through a Japanese pop culture lens, it’s a fun watch.

  4. I read world explosion…

  5. Really? If a street race had to be added and specifically on a man-made island then why not, for example, Odaiba in Tokyo instead? A quite iconic artificial island in the capital of the country.

  6. I would rather Suzuka was kept, but if it cannot, a street race is better than nothing. Besides, developing this bid might net Osaka a Formula E race (they like street circuits), which would still be worthwhile and make sense to series and city alike. So I would cautiously encourage this.

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