Russell bowled over by warmth of Japanese fans as typhoon threatens to dampen spirits

Japanese Formula One fans are recognised as some of the most passionate in the world of motorsport.

From dressing up as their favourite drivers, to queuing for hours for autographs and even making gifts for their heroes, the Japanese people create an atmosphere that is much appreciated by the teams and drivers.

For Williams driver George Russell, even though he was well aware of such passion, surely nothing could have prepared him for the throng of fans waiting for him as he arrived at Nagoya station.

“They’re great,” said Russell. “I came on the bullet train from Tokyo to Nagoya and when I got off the train, I thought there’s a lot of people about to enter this carriage but it turns out they were just all fans. I’ve got no idea not only how they knew I was arriving at that time but knew exactly what carriage I was on. I was a little bit worried, to be honest, but that was amazing. Just seeing their passion and all that you think and feel about Formula One is really great. They are bonkers in their own amazing way.”

Having taken his time to sign autographs for his waiting fans, Russell couldn’t avoid being given a present of his own, even though it was of a member of his own team!

“They are bonkers in their own amazing way. I’ve got a little, what do you call these? A little badge, a pin badge of Kats, one of our team members. So, this was actually made from a fan. It’s got ‘RoKats’ on there, which is quite funny.”

Possibly the only thing that could dampen the spirits of the best fans in the world this weekend is the category five super Typhoon ‘Hagibis’, that has already caused the postponement of England’s World Cup rugby match against France and also that of tournament favourites New Zealand vs. Italy.

“I think the weather that’s on the way, it could be quite a disruptive weekend, but I think I’m just going to treat it like any other,” added Russell. “There’s a high chance Saturday – it might be a tricky day for all of us, I think. The England rugby match has already been cancelled, so I’m not too sure what’s going to be happening here because it does look very likely we’re going to be hit by this typhoon. But we’ll just have to wait and see and I’m ready for everything.”

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.