- Luxury Fuji Speedway Hotel and 40-car museum opens to public.
- Tokyo Governor signs letter to permit Formula E race in Japan.
- Alpine reveals limited edition A110 R Fernando Alonso model.
The Japanese F1 Grand Prix is one of the most celebrated races on the global F1 calendar. A majority of the drivers refer to the country’s Suzuka Circuit as one of their favorite race tracks, a course with a reputation as the place where championships are decided. And because of that fact, thousands of fans flock to the course some 250 miles west of Tokyo each year to see their heroes battle it out.
This year, however, the race is being held for the first time in three years, thanks to Covid, which itself elevates interest levels, but the fact that Red Bull Racing’s ace driver Max Verstappen is on the verge of winning a second driver’s title has generated unprecedented interest in the event at home and abroad. On race day, Suzuka is expecting over 100,000 spectators to pack the stands.
It is this intense interest in the Japan F1 race that has led other automotive-related ventures to capitalize on the race week’s global exposure and unveil their own products and services in the lead-up to the event, thus creating strong synergies.
In fact, last week in Japan, three high-profile car-related events dominated the airwaves. Firstly, the luxury Fuji Speedway Hotel and Museum opened to the public and a fully electric Formula E race was announced for Tokyo starting in 2024. And to cap it all off, Alpine, the subsidiary of Renault that competes in F1 and makes sports cars, unveiled not one but two special models, the A110 R and the A110 R Fernando Alonso.
As the first property of its kind in Japan, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand collaborated with Toyota Real Estate to create the Fuji Speedway Hotel and Motorsport Museum. Flanked between the majestic Mt Fuji and the Fuji Speedway circuit, the hotel offers 120 rooms, several cabins and two restaurants with the highlight being uninterrupted views of the race track’s final corner from your bedroom.
In the spacious hotel lobby is one of Japan’s most comprehensive motorsports museums boasting a coveted selection of some 40 legendary race cars. From Porsche to Mercedes Benz, Ford to Alfa Romeo, Toyota to Nissan and Mazda, the 3-story museum spotlights motor racing from 100 years ago. The collection even showcases the famed Mazda 787B which was Japan’s first-ever race car to win the legendary 24-Hours of Le Mans in 1991.
Meanwhile, on October 4 in Tokyo at the ‘Tocho’ Metropolitan Government Building, Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike signed a memorandum of understanding that aims to bring an all-electric Formula E race to the city after years of speculation. The series currently features manufacturers including Jaguar, Maserati, Nissan, Porsche, DS Automobiles as well as China’s NIO. The agreement will see authorities in Tokyo work with Formula E organizers to stage a race around the Tokyo Big Sight area in 2024.
Unfortunately, however, the proposed track location on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay will not showcase even half the spectacular views and landmarks that Formula E circuits in Rome, London, New York City, Berlin, Valencia, Monaco, Mexico City and Sao Paulo offer. So creating a compelling backdrop for this race could be challenging.
And to cap off an intense week of motorsport-related activity, Alpine unveiled two special A110 models, the A110 R and the A110 R Fernando Alonso to commemorate the retirement of the famed Spanish Formula 1 driver who will leave the sport after a 21-year career and two world championship driver’s titles under his belt.
While the car’s 1.8-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine will remain unchanged with 300-hp, the Alonso model will come with unique exterior and interior features, both designed with input from the champion, but it will also feature unique on-track sensations including substantial carbon-fiber aeroparts. The coolest feature, however, is the laser-cut Alonso motto located in the sun visor. Whenever looking up you will remember that “there is more than one path to the top of the mountain.” The seats feature the same Fernando Alonso signature, while the door panels get the blue-orange-yellow flag.
The Alonso version will be limited to 32 units, one for each F1 victory recorded by the Spaniard. Each unit will boast a tribute plaque, showing numbers from 1 to 32, plus the name of both the circuit and the year of his victory race. Owners will also get a Fernando Alonso replica racing helmet, signed by the two-time world champion himself. But exclusivity has its price. According to one source, the special edition is priced from €148,000, which is significantly more than A110 R’s price of €105,000.
As I write this story, I’ve just heard that Verstappen captured pole position at Suzuka today and is in the hot seat to win his second world championship on Sunday. If that happens, Japan’s No 1 race track will live up to its reputation as being the place where titles are decided. And if he is victorious, that celebration will no doubt lead to even more brands wanting to capitalize on car-related synergies and unveilings in the lead-up to next year’s race.