A small Japanese fan and a 10,000 yen bill in an envelope bring to life a story that began at the 2019 Japanese GP and ended three years later with the return of Formula 1 to Suzuka.
Formula 1 is a big numbers sport, especially economically. Team budgets are huge, even with the recent cost cap, and every tenth of improvement on track is worth tens of thousands of euros at best. Nevertheless, a 10,000 yen bill also has the ability to remove the championship and to make it much more human.
A 10,000 yen bill that belonged to Goto, a young Formula 1 fan who was barely eight years old when the Japanese GP of the 2019 season was held, the last one before the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with his father, Goto waited for hours to see one of his idols up close. Fernando Alonso? Sebastien Vettel? Maybe Lewis Hamilton? None of that, Frédéric Vasseur, Alfa Romeo team principal.
The little boy has had the opportunity to meet Frédéric Vasseur, but also the Alfa Romeo drivers
Little Goto managed to move with agility among the hundreds of fans who were waiting for the drivers and team members to give an envelope to Fred Vasseur when the person in charge of Alfa Romeo left the Suzuka circuit to catch a train and later travel to Europe. An envelope that ended up in Vasseur’s briefcase without pain or glorywithout even being opened by its recipient.
On the flight back to Zurich, the Frenchman Vasseur noticed for the first time the envelope and after opening it he discovered a great surprise. The young Goto had written a message in English in which he showed his intention to help the team to improve. After saving for weeks, this young Japanese fan had given Alfa Romeo everything he hada 10,000 yen bill, which in exchange had been about 70 euros.
search and prize
Fred Vasseur quickly called Alfa Romeo’s head of communication and in the blink of an eye, the team had mounted a veritable ‘operation’ to locate Goto. In a world as global as the one we live in, there was not much problem to find this young fan in social networks and they were quickly able to contact Goto.
Since then, Hinwill team leaders have interacted with Goto in a variety of ways. With no Japanese Grand Prix due to the pandemic in both 2020 and 2021, little Goto has grown up without the opportunity to see the sport he loves live, until this year. What I couldn’t expect goto is that he was going to be invited to Suzuka together with his father by the Alfa Romeo team.
Goto has experienced a Japanese GP that he will never forget. The little boy has had the opportunity to meet Frédéric Vasseur, but also the Alfa Romeo drivers. Although his favorite driver Kimi Räikkönen is gone, He has made good friends with Valtteri Bottas, pilot of which he has several replicas of his helmets decorating his room. He has also had the opportunity to meet Guanyu Zhou.
Little Goto has seen firsthand the team wall and he has even been able to get on the Alfa Romeo car. His face of emotion in the video that the team has published on social networks to tell his story says it all, because sometimes a simple 10,000 yen bill can serve to fulfill a dream, since a sticker with ‘Thank you Goto’ message in Japanese has decorated the floor of the team’s single-seaters at Suzuka.
Photos: Alfa Romeo Racing