Does Infiniti want to project a strong Japanese identity on their brand globally? I'm not sure they do.
it's shame coz if it is a right era, he's no doubt a competitive driver that needs no sponsor or manufacturer backing to survive in F1 and earn at least decent seat like Sauber, FI or Lotus.
Unfortunately I don't see Kamui getting Japanese sponsorship. Despite the great crowds at Suzuka its difficult to appreciate that F1 is a minority interest in Japan. I think the behaviour of the fans at Suzuka is more due to the Japanese trait of having one or two interests that you're really into and REALLY getting into them and shouldn't be taken as a broader interest in the sport across the country. Also because of Japan's legendary support for Senna its again easy to overestimate the level of current support. No Japanese driver has ever come close to having similar levels of fame as the Brazilian within Japan.
Yeah, and it was sad to see empty white boards on pit building (just Pirelli stickers), that dont look good.
There was huge F1 boom in Senna/Prost era, but F1 has been minority in Japan for long time actually.
Even in UK F1's not that popular and common is it? I never really felt any F1/motorsport culture in UK (altho I know there indeed is), and none of my friends there have deep interest in F1. Almost sure that Football/cricket/etc are far more common and popular there. Also F1 TV rating is falling there isnt it?
As for Japan, even without Senna or japanese manufacturers/drivers, F1 has been "ok" here, but, overall, suffering from internationally common phenomenon - diversifying interest that is. (I imagine UK too to quite a degree)
Maybe I have to point out that I cannot help but feel Senna's popularity in Japan is quite overrated by non-Japanese tbh. Senna's popularity was worldwide, and Japanese/Asians tend to be crazy about western actor/actress/athletes/musicians/etc, like Beckham, Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Beatles, and so on. So in perspective it's understandble or not that much special to Senna.
Or, to put it another way, NO foreign athletes ever got such level of enthusiasm in Japan. Senna's popularity was synergy created by 1.his heroic, mysterious and passionate yet benevolent character/attitude/look, 2.invincible Honda engine, 3.penetration of F1 at that time since start of Japan GP at Suzuka in 1987. There were every single factors required to enable such exponential boost. IIRC TV hadnt started showing every race until as late as circa 1990, F1 had only 15 or so races a year, once 2-3 weeks unlike baseball etc, and of course japan GP is only once a year... in such situation, Senna became popular that much in a space of just few years here. Such thing never happened in Japan and will never happen.
In a sense its similar to American support for F1. I doubt Austin will have much difficulty filling its stands with truly passionate American crowds but only a fool would believe therefore that F1 is well known let alone followed in the US.
I'm posting this on Tuesday morning London time. I've just checked the Asahi Shimbun online edition in Japanese, sports page (this is one of the main Japanese papers). Looking at the headings there's still a London 2012 Olympics tag alongside football, baseball and high school baseball. F1 is not there to be seen unless you dig much deeper which reveals a grand total of five articles on Suzuka, two of which are about businesses running promotions there. There just isn't much interest.
Mojor newspapers like Yomiuri, Asahi and Mainichi had never reported F1 (even in 00s and 90s) in detail (just mention it very short), and that's nothing to do with level of public interest. It's just that it's been like that. (Only Chunichi sports shimbun report in decent detail)
But many online news outlet report F1, and news on Kamui's podium made headlines at major web portals and news congregation sites.
Also as for TV, only Fuji network (that has F1 licence here) report on F1, other tv stations never ever have reported F1 here.
I dont know what the reasons and rules are for these.. are there any contract that only allow Fuji TV to report F1? Using F1 footage and pics is too expensive? I'm not sure.
Positive news is that number of audience increased this year from last year, and it looks there are alot of new, younger age fans.
This should put things into perspective and it makes Autosport's myth that Honda started Aguri because it feared a backlash from Japanese fans from sacking Sato look even more bizarre.
exactly, that's TOTAL BS and myth that EVERYONE here seems to believe. "established/informed/knowledgable" media and jorno saying that is really embarrassing.
My family have tried to support young Japanese drivers coming to the UK in lower formulae in finding sponsorship but its very difficult as most of them are not keen on looking outside the expat Japanese community for backing (and there isn't much free money there either). If Kamui is to find sponsorship he'd be much better off trading on his reputation for being exciting than on his nationality. Maybe Red Bull would be a good fit?;)
I hoped honda and toyota continued driver program...
After Lehman shock, many Japanese companies are opting to focus resources on cost cutting and development (of green technology esp), so they're spending less on ads. Also they are facing this harsh global low cost competition, besides 311 didnt help either.
Many ad boards used to fill Suzuka circuit, but this year it was really scarce, even pitlane ad spaces were empty, only Pirelli stickers as i mentioned earlier...it's very sad.
As Bocmax implied, I think supporting Kamui can be good global publicity boost for companies like komatsu, canon etc. There's still stereotype view towards him as "japanese driver", which i always criticize, but at the same time I can see Kamui's not only liked but also genuinely recognized as "F1 driver" and rated high by general, broader F1 fans. Of course I take such reputation for granted coz Ive been watching his performance closely and know he's good already, but still glad to see that. Supporting driver like him cannot be bad PR, I think they are wasting good opportunity.