Japan is often known as the “land of the rising sun,” but in the context of what it ‘could’ do to a popular racing track in Formula 1, it might just compel fans to exclaim: “Japan- you are, after all, not so much fun!”
With Suzuka standing at the risk of being lost, once and for all, Formula 1 could well be on the stepping stone of introducing yet another street track to its calendar.
And if at all true, as per reports and expert sources connected to Formula 1, then the forthcoming brand new season could be a historic one.
The sport is quickly changing and turning on its head in that we could soon have a day where a third of all Formula 1 Grands Prix are street courses or street tracks, as they say.
But just how did it all happen and what’s led to this possible brand new introduction?
Apparently, with Suzuka supposedly going to be dumped, which means the loss of an iconic venue where legends like Senna and Schumacher once reigned supreme, there’s talk of a street circuit at Osaka being developed in the wake of a future introduction to the F1 grid.
As a matter of factly, it was back in 2019, when the then mayor of the city of Osaka had expressed in no uncertain terms about hosting a Formula 1 race. The news was indeed considered a promising development, one that was covered widely by noted publications such as The Japan Times.
But not long after, the world became engulfed in the debauchery of the Covid pandemic and subsequently, the Japanese Grand Prix stood cancelled for two back-to-back seasons (much like Singapore).
The big news regarding Suzuka
But a couple of days back, what emerged as a latest trending development in the soul stirring world of Formula 1 shook one and all, more specifically, the classicist; those whose hearts beat for the venue of the incredible 130R.
As it turns out, Suzuka’s days of being the home of the Japanese Grand Prix could well be over and we may even see one final race being held at the venue in the course of the future.
Why Suzuka is loved
It’s here where legends like Hamilton and Vettel and the tenacious Fernando Alonso have won fascinating battles in the past.
Raikkonen is noted to have contested, arguably speaking, his finest Grand Prix here when in 2005, one wherein he drove from seventeen to first in acing a legendary battle at Suzuka. His pass on Fisichella in the final moments at the famous venue birthed the legend of the Iceman.
In its later years, another Finn, Valtteri Bottas romped home to a mega win in 2019 here, beating in the process, even the dogged Lewis Hamilton, his then Mercedes teammate.
Say bye to old memories?
And while of these memories will ever be close to fans, the possibility of seeing similar triumphs in the future stands to be lost with the “could be” introduction of a street course at Osaka, as sources say.
Here’s what the Judge13 web portal had to say:
The potential departure of Suzuka from the F1 calendar marks the end of a significant era. The loss goes beyond racing; it represents a departure from a venue steeped in history and fan tradition. Suzuka’s absence would be deeply felt, both for its racing challenges and its emotional connection with fans, particularly in Japan.
That told, even as the FIA hasn’t yet reacted to the whole talk about the famous Japanese Grand Prix being shifted from Suzuka to Osaka, the fans have declared their verdict without much ado or wait.
What does the fan say about Suzuka’s possible exit?
It’s quite clear. The fan emotion is that no one is ready for yet another Formula 1 Grand Prix at another street track. There’s plenty of them already.
To refresh memory, lest it is forgotten, the sport is already home to no fewer than 7 street tracks, these being- Miami, Monaco, Australia, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and as seen in the closing stages of 2023, the newly-introduced Las Vegas Grand Prix.
With seven street tracks already firmly placed on the F1 calendar, is there actually a need to introduce an eighth?
Too many street tracks?
At a time where the sport’s purist is constantly engaged in endless debates about the novelty factor of Formula 1, speaking time and again, about the classic F1 tracks such as Monza, Spa and Suzuka, what fun would it be to lose one among the few legends out there?
However, to traverse from the field of emotion and step onto the grass of commerce, it appears, that things are actually green here.
The business-minded commerce-driven value-added purpose from the introduction of a Grand Prix at Osaka has, apparently, its own benefit.
So what is it?
They’re saying that with Japan already hosting the Expo 2025 World Exposition, the shift to a new track at Osaka will augur well for a change in the branding and marketing dynamic of the country.
It’ll take the globe-trotting tourist to a ride of adventure that is easy to connect to. An F1 street track race can be easily seen, for instance, if you’re firmly placed at a location that’s in closer proximity to the live race, such as- a hotel or condominium close to the venue instead of proper racing tracks that are, in many cases, a bit far off from the city where a Grand Prix is held.
We see that in the case of Monaco. We see that also in case of Singapore’s Marina Bay. You just have to be at the right venue to be in touch with pulsating racing action.
But again, will it be actually that much of a live wire of a contest if yet another track is added to the calendar as if it didn’t have too many already?
That’s a call the sport’s widespread audience can’t take, but must be, duly thought upon, by those entrusted in popularising F1, not limiting its fanfare.