Friday, 14 October 2016 09:00

The …Kamikazes of Formula 1

Written by

Translated by Georgia Mystrioti


Having in mind some Japanese drivers who raced in Formula 1, the first memories that surface are anything but victories and racing records.

Date of 1st publication: 12/10/2013


Maybe I am exaggerating, but the vast majority of Japan’s representatives offered substantial examples which formed a negative stereotype about the Japanese racing drivers, characterized by an over-the-top enthusiasm and a strong tendency for mistakes.
In many cases, the “victims” of their errors were their colleagues, who had their races ended in an untimely fashion with a kamikaze move that caused irreparable damage due to the collision.
Since these particular moves have their own special place in the history of Formula 1, they deserve a tribute.
Thus, decided to delve into these, so as to make them common knowledge of the Formula 1 fans.
After a truly hard time choosing, we present you the top 10 kamikaze moves.
In this list, there are accidents from the 1987-2007 period, for which the Japanese driver is largely or fully responsible. We did not include any moves from Taki Inoue, as there is a separate feature about him.
The top 10, in descending order:


10. Ukyo Katayama – Portuguese GP 1995

Katayama Estoril 1995

One of the best drivers that ever raced in Formula 1 in a terrifying moment, with Tyrrell performing …pirouettes after the collision with Luca Badoer’s Minardi and Andrea Montermini’s Pacific:

9. Satoru Nakajima – Mexican GP 1987

Nakajima 1988

The first Japanese racing driver who participated full-time in Formula 1 (under the blessing of Honda, who provided engines to Lotus) “forgets” to pull the brakes and sweeps away not only the 2 McLaren vehicles of Alain Prost and Stefan Johannson, but also Christian Danner’s Zakspeed:

8. Takuma Sato – Italian GP 2002

Sato Raikkonen Monza 2002

Another Japanese driver who got into the sport with Honda’s blessing, with higher expectations than his fellow Japanese predecessors.
He did not avoid making mistakes, but he became a better racing driver as the years went by.
Here, in the qualifying rounds of Monza, he loses control of his Jordan EJ12, drives on the grass and crashes on Kimi Raikkonen’s McLaren:

7. Takuma Sato – Malaysian GP 2002

Fisichella Malaysia 2002 2

Once again, we see Takuma in a crash which preceded the one with Raikkonen in Monza.
It is noteworthy that in the qualifying rounds of the Australian GP, 1st race of the year, Sato managed to qualify with the Italian’s racing car, as he had managed to destroy both his own and the replacement one.
Fisico was scared that he would destroy his own, too, which did not happen in Albert Park, but in Sepang.
From 2.18 and onwards, you can see the crash from Juan Pablo Montoya’s onboard camera:

6. Toranosuke Takagi – Japanese GP 1998

Takagi Tuero Suzuka 1998

Having Satoru Nakajima as a mentor, it is only natural that Tora attempted a kamikaze move in order to overtake Esteban Tuero in the brakes in the Casino Triangle.
This move, though, ended up in both drivers getting left out, with Michael Schumacher as a side “victim” as he drove on the wrecks of both Tyrrell and Minardi:

5. Toranosuke Takagi – Italian GP 1999

Takagi Badoer Monza 1999

With a move that reminds of Satoru Nakajima’s one in the Mexican GP 1987, Tora crashes on Luca Badoer’s Minardi at the end of the big straight lane, thus forcing the Italian off the race.
A (unconfirmed) rumor has it that Takagi gets angry every time he sees a Minardi:

4. Satoru Nakajima – Hungarian GP 1989

Nakajima 1989

When exiting the pits, Derek Warwick sees in his mirror Nakajima’s Lotus passing over the front-right wheel of his Arrows, thankfully without consequences for him. That’s Takagi’s mentor in another one of his greatest moments:

3. Kazuki Nakajima – Brazilian GP 2007

Nakajima Fisichella Turkey 2008

“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, the saying goes, and when the “tree” is Satoru Nakajima, the “apple” cannot help but be the same.
Satoru’s son, Kazuki Nakajima, probably the worst racing driver that has ever passed from Williams (Toyota seems to be behind this), offered quite a few “touching” moments in the pit during his tenure in Formula 1.
However, his top moment occurred in the pitlane of Interlagos.
It was his first race, his first pit stop, and the first time the engineers realized with whom they had to work.

2. Yuji Ide – San Marino GP 2006

Ide Albers Imola 2006 1

When FIA recalls a racing driver’s Superlicense, it is done either for security reasons or because of irreconcilable differences.
In Yuji Ide’s case, the latter is happening. Clearly.
Christijan Alders saw his Midland performing …pirouettes, because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
An exterminator like Yuji does not forgive such mistakes:

1. Aguri Suzuki – Mexican GP 1990

Suzuki Lola 1990

The driver who, as a team owner, hired Yuji Ide a few years later, in a moment that should be taught as a cautionary tale in the racing driver school.
While the central lane road is wet and slippery, Suzuki decides to warm up his wheels.
We don’t know if his wheels managed to get warmed up, but surely Gerard Larousse got hot under the collar when he saw the Japanese driver crash his Lola 90 on the wall:




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