AlphaTauri has defended its poster use after a symbol on it causes fans to speak against it, while McLaren signs Ryo Hirakawa as reserve.

AlphaTauri –

Ahead of this weekend’s F1 Japanese GP, AlphaTauri released a poster using rising sun flag which has offended a section of people on social media. The poster was released about 16 hours ago with a statement only coming some time back after several messages.

The rising sun flag is equated or is compared to the Nazi swastika or reminds of Japan’s wartime atrocities in some section like Korea, China, the Philippines and few other Asian countries, while a section in Japan considers it as part of its history.

But AlphaTauri has defended the use of the symbol on the poster of Yuki Tsunoda while apologising about any offence. “We have seen some comments over the last few hours, about our Japanese GP poster,” it said. “We created this poster just for an aesthetic purpose without any intention of referencing any political movement or historic fact.

“We apologize with everyone who could be offended by such an involuntary reference. This poster was purely intended to celebrate the race week of one of the most iconic and popular races on the F1 calendar.”

McLaren –

In an interesting news, McLaren announced the hiring of Toyota WEC driver Hirakawa as one of its F1 reserves and part of its driver development programme at Suzuka in the presence of Toyota’s leading figures Kazuki Nakajima and Aki Toyoda.

The Le Mans 24 Hours winner will be doing simulator work at McLaren Technology Center and will also get to test the MCL35M as part of the testing programme. The Japanese driver will dovetail his work alongside racing for Toyota in WEC in 2024.

“I’m happy to have joined the McLaren F1 Team as a reserve driver. It’s an exciting prospect to work with such a respected team and I’m grateful to Zak and Andrea for the opportunity,” said Hirakawa. “I’ve already met the team and experienced the simulator at MTC which has allowed me to hit the ground running. I’m now fully prepared and focused for the remainder of 2023.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to express two points of appreciation. The first one goes to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. I am grateful to them for allowing me to serve as a driver for the two teams. The second thank you goes to MORIZO-san (Akio Toyoda), who has supported me as a driver. As a driver himself, his advice was that I should drive any car that gives me the chance to develop. I therefore want to make the most of this opportunity and return the favor by showing him how I have grown.”

At the same time, team boss Andrea Stella stated: “I’m pleased to welcome Ryo to McLaren Racing as a Formula 1 reserve driver to further strengthen our growing support driver pool. We are thankful to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for their collaboration by allowing Ryo to take on the new role alongside his driving duties.

“He has an impressive record on track winning Le Mans as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship. We look forward to working closely with Ryo who has already spent time on the simulator at MTC. His wealth of experience will benefit the team in a number of areas as he joins our strong stable of drivers.”

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