Formula 1 returns to the Land of the Rising Sun this weekend for the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, with several drivers marking the occasion with new helmet designs.
After Carlos Sainz ended Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s run of victories last time out in Singapore, all eyes will be on how the Milton Keynes outfit and the Dutchman respond at Suzuka.
While several drivers went with chrome-inspired helmet designs for the night race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, the Japanese flag is the big theme for this week’s race.
The Japanese Grand Prix is one of the highlights of the F1 season, with plenty of drivers calling the iconic venue their favourite race.
With high-speed changes of direction, the Degner curves, Spoon and 130R, there are plenty of corners that push the drivers and cars to their limits.
The strong relationship between F1 and the passionate Japanese fans will likely be strengthened by the Tokyo fan festivals at both Tokyu Kabukicho Tower and Kabukicho Cine City Square on Wednesday.
Drivers expected to be in attendance include Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon, with Frederic Vasseur and Stefano Domenicali also set to be there.
Former drivers Jean Alesi and Shinji Nakano are also slated to appear, while the Red Bull RB19 and the AlphaTauri AT02 will be on display.
With the passion for F1 clearly strong, here a look at the new helmet designs some of the drivers will have on display at the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso has a special connection with Japan due to the tattoo he has on his upper back.
The elder statesman on the F1 grid has artwork that features Japanese written characters, with the wider design inspired by Hagakure, a spiritual guide written by 18th-century samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo.
“The Samurai take everything to another level: one must fight, things don’t just happen. It also reminds me of something important that happened to me: the Samurai in the drawing is kneeling, almost in defeat, but always looking up,” Alonso told Marca.
Alonso has thus opted to include the tattoo on his helmet design for this weekend’s race.
Reigning world champion Max Verstappen has unveiled a new design for the Japanese Grand Prix, noting the race holds a special place in his heart.
“I have special memories of Japan. I drove my first Formula 1 practice session at Suzuka back in the day, which was quite challenging. Since then, I have always held a special relationship with the country, especially with Honda coming on board with our team. Then, of course, I managed to win my second world championship in Japan last year,” said Verstappen.
“Japan brings back a lot of special memories for me and that’s why I thought that this was a good place to have a special helmet.”
The helmet is mostly white, while Verstappen’s logo is red for the occasion.
Not to be left out, Esteban Ocon will also wear a new helmet design inspired by the colours of Japan for the race.
In what can only be described as one of the most eye-catching designs that we can recall, Lewis Hamilton will hit the track in a helmet featuring a chrome finish and an LED strik across the visor.
The design has been done in collaboration with Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama, and is already a hit amongst fans on social media, with some calling it the best they’ve ever seen.
Hamilton posted his new helmet on Twitter with the caption, “Man vs. Machine”.
The Alfa Romeo driver has ditched his usual design for a predominately blue look that has been done in collaboration with Hiroshi Fujiwara.
At what is his home race, Yuki Tsunoda has gone for a Japanese flag inspired look like Alonso and Ocon.