Yuki Tsunoda, Formula 1’s local hero at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, expressed his excitement for racing on his favorite track, Suzuka. He not only spoke highly of Suzuka’s layout but also the exhilarating experience it offers to drivers. Tsunoda eagerly anticipates experiencing what he describes as a “pure kind of performance” during the race, particularly in terms of aerodynamics and downforce.
“Yeah, first of all, the track layout is amazing. It’s my favourite track,” he said.
However, what truly caught Tsunoda off-guard was the unexpected level of support he received from Japanese fans. In a candid admission, he stated, “it’s hard to know” exactly how many people in Japan are interested in Formula 1. Tsunoda had the opportunity to participate in promotional activities in Tokyo just days before the race, and he was overwhelmed by the warm welcome he received from the local fans. This reinforced his surprise at the level of local interest in the sport, making him realize that the Japanese are more tuned in to F1 than he had initially thought.
“You know, like it’s really far away, normally, from Japan, to feel any kind of support exactly.
“You know, I didn’t expect… It’s always a surprise the amount of people supporting Formula 1, because, to be honest, it’s hard to know exactly the amount of people watching Formula 1 from Japan but yeah, even yesterday, even to two days before I went to Tokyo and did a couple of promotions and stuff.”
Tsunoda, who has quickly become one of the most promising drivers on the F1 circuit despite a few recent DNFs, couldn’t contain his enthusiasm about Suzuka. He particularly finds the first sector and the last chicane exhilarating to navigate. These portions of the track allow him to experience that “pure kind of performance” that defines Formula 1 racing.
“I saw lots of Formula 1 fans there and I feel I got a really warm welcome from them,” he shared.
As he gears up for the upcoming race, Tsunoda is not just contending with the physical challenges of the Suzuka track but is also carrying the weight of newfound local adoration. Additionally, there is added pressure from rookie and reserve driver Liam Lawson, who seems to be making his mark after just three races as his AlphaTauri teammate.