Yuki Tsunoda, Suzuka, 2024

Japanese racers forced to make “late start” due to rules – Tsunoda

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In the round-up: Yuki Tsunoda says Japanese drivers have to make a “late start” in single-seaters compared to their European counterparts.

In brief

Japanese drivers have “late start” – Tsunoda

Tsunoda believes the rules of the Japanese motorsport federation means young talented drivers in the country are disadvantaged compared to European drivers. The only Japanese driver in Formula 1 said there have been relatively few racers from his country in F1 due to the country’s laws.

“In Europe and Japan, there’s a bit of regulation difference in terms of like the age you can start single-seater,” Tsunoda explained. “In Japan, you can start from 16 years old, from [date of] birth, and I think in Europe, drivers can start from 14 years old.

“So there’s two years difference and that creates already kind of a late start. That’s why you have to go to Europe to race and to compete against the European drivers, so that probably makes it a little bit difficult.”

The language difference presents another barrier, said Tsunoda. “The Japanese don’t speak as much good English, like me. So it’s hard to communicate well and tell what you want specifically from the car set-up, for example. These things will take a little bit of time.”

Habsburg fractures vertebrae in test crash

Alpine hypercar driver Ferdinand Habsburg has suffered two fractured vertebrae in a crash during a test at the Aragon circuit.

A statement issued by the team confirmed their driver, who races the number 35 Alpine A424 with team mates Paul-Loup Chatin and Charles Milesi, suffered the injuries in a crash at turn seven last month.

“The cause of the accident is currently under investigation,” Alpine said. “Ferdinand was taken to the hospital in Alcaniz for examinations and was discharged in the evening.

“The next day, he was repatriated to Austria, where he underwent further examinations. Ferdinand suffers from two fractured lumbar vertebrae, with no neurological impact. He is beginning his recovery, the duration of which has not yet been defined. It will determine its participation in the next round of the FIA WEC at Imola.”

Gasly welcomes Alpine’s first upgrades

Pierre Gasly says he hopes that Alpine’s first upgrades of the season will be the “first step in the right direction” as the team look to move off the bottom of the constructors’ championship table.

“It’s nice to have this first upgrade on the car,” Gasly said. “It was planned already before the season started, so it’s sort of following the sort of development plan that we had already in place.

“We don’t expect it to be major. We know it’s not going to bring us where we want to be, but it’s a first step in the right direction, so definitely looking forward to see what it brings.”

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Comment of the day

Should Albert Park’s turn six be modified after a spate of accidents? Perhaps so, says GT Racer

The issue is that the run-off and barrier layout was designed around the corner as it was and that now doesn’t suit the way the corner now is.

It’s not just that the corner is faster now but the trajectory through it is also different so if you go off there you’re not only hitting the barriers at a higher speed but also a different angle as the apex is now further over to the right.

Altering the run-off may not be possible as they are restricted by what they can do due to it been parkland and public roads, so the best thing to do may to just be reconfigure the corner back to the way it was before.
GT Racer

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On this day in motorsport

Nick Heidfeld, Jenson Button, Timo Glock, Sepang, 2009
Jenson Button won a shortened race at Sepang today in 2009

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Will Wood
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17 comments on “Japanese racers forced to make “late start” due to rules – Tsunoda”

  1. COTD is spot on i think.

    When cars go off turning into the corner now they are hitting the barrier further round towards the exit at higher speed so they are then been propelled back towards the circuit.

    With the corner as it was until 2022 cars going off were hitting the barrier further to the left and at lower speed so were not heading back towards the track.

    Accidents caused by coming off the exit kerb like Albon’s in FP1 could happen before (Maldonado in 2012 for example) but it’s the one’s with cars going off on the entry to the turn that the new design has made a problem.

    1. The T6 radius isn’t the problem here, but the exit curb & Techpro positioning.
      Otherwise, that corner shouldn’t have been altered in the first place as entry & exit speed increases & consequently, also the risk of ending up back on track was clear-cut already when the configuration change was decided.
      The minimum needed is simply moving the curb & white line further outwards, i.e., left so that cars’ natural trajectory wouldn’t meet them, & maybe also tarmac runoff just in case, as well as the barrier as much outwards as possible to further minimize risks.

      1. People also shouldn’t forget that Maldonado’s crash in the 2012 race (when T6 was in its original tighter radius) equally led to the car bouncing back on track, which only further proves that the T6 radius has never been the issue but solely barrier & exit curbing placements, as well as gravel runoff to an extent.

    2. Spot off IMO. Since when did we reprofile a corner anytime it was difficult? George’s crash wasn’t even high speed either. So, it’s not like it’s even approaching a safety risk.

  2. I never realized such a difference age-wise exists between Europe & Japan.
    He couldn’t be more right about the language aspect as the general English level is relatively low, even if this doesn’t quite show in big or semi-big cities.

    I also hadn’t realized Yen has weakened, although I don’t know how the early-season switch would necessarily bring more international attendees, given this time of year is cooler than the mid-autumn phase.

    1. I also hadn’t realized Yen has weakened, although I don’t know how the early-season switch would necessarily bring more international attendees

      Japan is currently packed with foreigners checking out the Sakura blossoms. March/April is peak tourist season.
      And right now, due to the extremely favourable currency exchange rate – for a westerner, the Japanese GP is currently one of the cheapest to attend. Japan, generally, is very cheap right now – for everyone except the Japanese locals.

    2. notagrumpyfan
      5th April 2024, 8:00

      I don’t know how the early-season switch would necessarily bring more international attendees

      Cherry blossoms

      1. True, spring is well-visited because of this aspect, although so is late autumn, but long-term will show the true impact.

      2. Though I’ve been there for the blossoms, it actually probably restricts international visits because the Japanese are traveling heavily at this time due to the blossoms and school vacations. So, beyond cost, you need to book welllll in advance to even get a room. But Japan, IMO, is always a great time. Never met a country I loved more.

        1. Nick T. All points are good & wholly valid, although school vacations are even more prominent during the upcoming Golden Week period.
          My 2-week trip to the country after last Christmas was my first time visit, so while I haven’t exactly been there during the Sakura season (or any time the weather is warm, for that matter), I couldn’t agree more with you concerning your last part & thus I’m positive I’ll return there someday.

    3. He couldn’t be more right about the language aspect

      The Japanese language is so different from European language structures, with almost no shared words, apart from a few imported modern words like dragon/draco, so it must be much harder for Japanese and Chinese drivers than for, say, Italian or German drivers. I am always impressed by how fluent all of the non-British drivers become. I was blown away first time I heard Albon talking, speaks like someone who was born and grew up here, but then I looked him up on Google and discovered he was born and grew up here. His mother is Thai, and he holds dual citizenship, but chooses to race under the Thai flag.

      1. AlanD Having been extensively exposed to the language mainly through anime since August 2017, I can definitely agree that it’s very different from European languages in more or less all ways, even sentence structures, albeit the amount of (mainly) English-origin loan words is rather excessive with countless words that (immediately on the first time hearing) are very clearly English-like words with Japanized pronunciations, (& dragon isn’t really one of them, although it also has a Japanglish version that’s only used rarely over the language-specific word), most of which sound funny & weird.
        However, the vast indifferences between East Asian & European languages indeed make communication comparatively harder for East Asian drivers than European (or American continents, Australia, etc.,) ones.
        As for Albon, when I first became aware of him after the 2019 Abu Dhabi GP weekend, I never thought English wouldn’t be his first & only language despite quickly noting the Anglo-Thai reference, either before or when I heard him speak for the first time.

    4. Dont know;
      Wouldnt be nice if the young Japanese would-be driver take advantage of the age before 16 to learn as much english as they can?

  3. CotD:

    Altering the run-off may not be possible as they are restricted by what they can do due to it been parkland and public roads

    Being parkland, they can do anything they like. The parklands roads are minor and non-essential, and were recently closed for an extended period during the recent realignment that created this new corner profile.

    so the best thing to do may to just be reconfigure the corner back to the way it was before.

    I agree with this part anyway, as the previous alignment provided a more interesting driving challenge.

    1. S Yes, & when I checked the space beyond on Google Maps satellite & street views, I realized the amount of space available is even greater than I always thought, so definitely some scope for extended runoff space & realigned Techpro positionings.
      However, I disagree about the latter part, because slighter is more enjoyable flow-wise, & if anything, making T6 further slighter would rather improve the situation, especially as bouncing back on track after barrier contact was a thing even with the original tighter radius.

  4. copersucarf1
    5th April 2024, 21:23

    Poor excuses, Tsunoda. Although it is true that language and cultural barriers do influence, in the end of the day I think on average that the answer is quite simple: Japanese drivers are not as good as Europeans and south Americans, ranking more or less like Americans in general. Drivers from other countries have to face the single most important barrier: money. There is no such shortage of talent from Brazilians and Argentinians, we lack financial backing, even the rich kids. Actually, I think this kind of argument it is even worse when it comes from Americans: they speak english and have all the financial backing in the world. Just see Colton Herta whining about Europe, performing bad against young Norris, not to mention his employee, mr. Michael Andretti. Would love to see Andretti enter F1 again just to get beaten hard even by Haas.

  5. Re cotd – stay on the track, these drivers are supposedly the best so shouldnt have a problem. Yeah, too obvious eh.

    Re Tsunoda – if you are talented enough, 2 years wont matter.
    As for the English aspect, a lot more Japanese people speak English than he realises. Maybe he doesnt know due to the racing life bubble he lives in but he would be well surprised. A visit to Hokkaido alone might fix his perception.
    Between my visits & the evolution of the internet every Japanese person I have met knew English. Definitely moreso improved in the past 15yrs with some better than most yet almost all spoke or wrote it better than Yuki can speak it himself.

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