Lewis Hamilton won Grand Prix titles everywhere from North America and Mexico to Australia and Japan, but did he master any new languages along the way – such as Japanese?
Keep on reading to learn more about Hamilton’s ties to Japan, and meet some talented Formula One drivers who originate from this country.
Hamilton’s Victories in Japan
Lewis Hamilton kicked off his Formula One career during the 2007 season, and immediately knocked it out of the park. He scored four Grand Prix titles in 2007 alone, and one of them just happened to be the Japanese Grand Prix.
He managed to come out victorious after beating his McLaren-Mercedes teammate Fernando Alonso, but this was just the first of his many triumphs in Japan. He returned to this country on several occasions in the future, and won the Japanese Grand Prix again in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018.
With a total of five Grand Prix wins in Japan, Lewis Hamilton is right behind Michael Schumacher who has six. He didn’t hide his love for the Suzuka Circuit, where the Japanese Grand Prix takes place.
“They don’t make tracks like this anymore – there’s very little room for runoff, a little touch of the grass and you’re off in the wall. Suzuka has to be one of my favorite circuits, if not the favorite one, it’s very cool,” said Hamilton back in 2018.
British race driver managed to set a new lap record at the Suzuka Circuit during the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix – 1:30.983. Despite this historic achievement, Valtteri Bottas won the race, while Hamilton only finished third.
Lewis Hamilton never managed to get a grasp of Japanese, but his behavior at one of the press conferences in this country spoke volumes. He came under fire while attending the Japanese Grand Prix in 2016, after using Snapchat during a press conference.
Hamilton was clearly distracted by adding bunny ear filters to the photos of his fellow drivers, instead of answering questions. Many people found his behavior rude and immature, but the F1 champion claimed it was all in good fun.
He tried to justify his behavior by writing “today was meant to be fun, not at all disrespectful.” Hamilton also criticized the format of the press conference, saying it’s been the same for ten years, and suggested that fans should be the ones asking questions.
Japanese Formula One Drivers
Lewis Hamilton doesn’t speak any Japanese, but this country is a home to several Formula One drivers who do. Unfortunately, not many of them managed to become worldwide sensations, or score significant Grand Prix victories.
Hiroshi Fushida is remembered as the first Japanese Formula One driver. He entered the Dutch Grand Prix in 1975, but failed to impress the audience after his engine was blown before the race even started, and couldn’t even qualify for the British Grand Prix later that year.
Aguri Suzuki went down in history as the first Japanese driver to achieve a podium finish, when he scored third place at the Japanese Grand Prix in 1990. He went on to lead the Super Aguri F1 team between 2006 and 2008.
The most significant member of his team was Takuma Sato, who scored the only podium of his career at the 2004 United States Grand Prix. He also managed to make it no. 8 at the Formula One World Championship that season, becoming the only Japanese driver to ever soar that high.
The latest Japanese Formula One driver worth mentioning is Kamui Kobayashi. During his F1 career, he was a part of Toyota’s team, and won his only podium when he finished third at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix.