When it comes to points scored, the most successful Japanese driver in Formula 1 is Kamui Kobayashi, now driving for Toyota at Le Mans, who scored 125 points and one podium finish during a Formula 1 career that spanned five seasons, with a best result of third in Japan (where else?)
There are several other talented drivers from Japan who ran him close. People such as Takuma Sato (who also stood on an F1 podium once, in the United States, and won the Indy 500 this year) as well as Kazuki Nakajima: another man who has been at the forefront of Le Mans with Toyota. However, there are a few more Japanese heroes out there who are probably less well-known and certainly less successful, but who stand out for having a unique star quality all of their own…
By his own admission, he achieved little in his Formula 1 career, but he more than made up for that with a stellar profile on social media since, casting himself in the role of comic hero. After the first T-shirts appeared quoting Kimi Raikkonen a few years ago – “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing” – Inoue suggested marketing his own brand of T-shirt: “don’t leave me alone, I have no idea what I’m doing.”
He may have had a point there, as two of Inoue’s career highlights included being run over by the medical car in Hungary, as well as getting involved in a collision with the safety car in Monaco (driven by rally legend Jean Ragnotti). He describes his time in Formula 1 as a “nightmare” – but at least it gave him plenty of material to tweet about.
“Thanks to Honda, Taki Inoue is no longer Japan’s biggest Formula 1 failure!” he enthusiastically pointed out recently. And his comments on Bernd Maylander’s laps in the safety car? “Definitely his lap times are faster than mine ever were.”
For all these reasons, Inoue is one of Japan’s biggest racing heroes.