Formula E

Fans, organisers & Yuki Tsunoda celebrate successful Formula E premiere in Tokyo: "I'm a bit jealous"

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

The first Tokyo E-Prix in Formula E history last weekend was a complete success. The organisers, participants, fans and media all agree. So did Formula 1 driver Yuki Tsunoda, who paid his first visit to the electric series in his home country.

"To be honest, I'm really envious. They're literally doing this in the middle of Tokyo," explained Tsunoda on the starting grid before the race (to the YouTube video). The Visa Cash App RB driver is thus looking towards Suzuka, where he will be racing in the "premier class" this weekend - one week after his Formula E visit.

But it's not just the location that impresses Tsunoda: "The access is amazing! There are a lot of new fans here who might not even have been interested in motorsport. They can just come here, whereas Suzuka is a bit far away from Tokyo. Getting there is more difficult. I'm a bit jealous."

20,000 visitors thrilled by the Formula E atmosphere

In fact, the Tokyo E-Prix was a great success regarding the fans. The grandstands were packed during the sessions - officially sold out with around 20,000 spectators. The crowd at the podium ceremony in particular made for spectacular TV images. It was more comparable to a rock concert than to a racing event.

Especially Japanese manufacturer Nissan was pleased with the lively support at the track. The members of the "Nissan ōuendan" fan club in particular created a great atmosphere at the side of the long straight.

"When I watched it (Formula E) on TV, I wasn't really interested. But now that I'm here today, I realise how much fun it is. I'm really impressed," member Takeshi Kurosawa is quoted as saying by the japan times.

Colleague Takuya Asai adds: "It's a completely different atmosphere to the domestic motorsport I normally watch," he says. "It feels really international and the excitement is different from the Japanese spectators. It's really refreshing."

Stays "one of the best Formula E events" on the calendar?

"One of the best Formula E events in our history," said series co-founder and Chief Championship Officer Alberto Longo in an Instagram post. In it, he also thanked the local political support, namely Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Governor Yuriko Koike, who both attended the race.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Alberto Longo (@albertolongoformulae)

So what made the Tokyo E-Prix so successful? A lot of things. The race had been years in the making and was well realised. The location was well chosen - relatively central, but not in an area that was too busy. As a result, Formula E presumably hardly disturbed anyone, but was still able to set up a typical street circuit that presented the drivers with challenges.

The race could have produced a little more overtaking. Nevertheless, the action on the track was generally good - especially in the final phase. The promotion surrounding the race weekend was also much more pronounced than usual. Including by the domestic manufacturer Nissan, which was truly omnipresent.

"The plan is to be here for several years," Formula E CEO Jeff Dodds told The Race before the race weekend. "I've never felt such energy around a race as I did at this one. So I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure we come back here every year."

So Formula E obviously does not have a multi-year contract with Tokyo. However, following the success of the race debut, the chances of the Japanese capital remaining part of the Formula E calendar in the long term have probably increased.

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