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The Japanese driver talks about being away from home and alternative career options.

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The Japanese driver talks about being away from home and alternative career options.

What does this weekend's home race at Suzuka mean to you? 

A lot. I had a taste of it with Toyota last year, when I substituted for Timo Glock during the Friday practice sessions. That was at short notice, but this year I will have lots of supporters and there is a special area for them, between the second and third turns. It has more than 2,000 seats, and I managed to buy some tickets for them to be there.

When did you last race in Japan? 

In 2003 I competed in Formula Toyota at Suzuka, but only on the short track. I didn't actually do much racing in Japan.

Have you ever felt homesick?

No. It was strange when I first came to Europe, to Vicenza in Italy, because I didn't even speak English and everything was completely different, but it was also fun. In Japan it is not unusual to leave your family and go to work elsewhere.

Did you always dream of becoming a F1 driver? No, never. I wanted to become a comedian but found I wasn't talented enough.

Did your parents support your racing ambitions? 

My parents were not at all interested in racing - they still don't own a road car. I bought myself a car twice, but both times my father sold it. He runs a sushi delivery shop in Amagasaki, near Osaka. If I hadn't been quick in karting, perhaps I would have become a sushi chef… but I hate raw fish.