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After Madrid, could Osaka be next city to grab a Formula 1 race?

Formula 1 owner Liberty Media’s push to hold events in destination cities continued this week as it announced its new 10-year Spanish Grand Prix contract with Madrid.

Osaka overview

Off the back of its new events in Jeddah, Miami and Las Vegas, the latest addition from 2026 shows the clear trajectory of the type of race that fits F1’s bill right now.

With the Madrid deal now done, attention has inevitably shifted to see where else could emerge as a candidate city to join the roster – with one interesting contender being Osaka in Japan.

There have been whispers for a few months now that Japan’s third most populous city was contemplating putting together an F1 bid, but its plans have now been confirmed as city chiefs evaluate what can be done.

PLUS: Can F1's Madrid street race avoid the fate of Valencia’s white elephant?

Osaka tourism bureau chairman Hiroshi Mizohata has just formally announced its intention to become a candidate for F1, and a representative of the organisation has talked exclusively to Autosport about the project that included a delegation visiting last year’s Singapore Grand Prix. 

“F1 will be the perfect catalyst for Osaka to become an international tourist city,” said the tourism bureau member. 

“In order for Osaka to achieve that, it is important to attract wealthy people from Europe, America, and Australia. 

“We also believe that F1 will be the perfect catalyst for attracting luxury hotels and revitalising the nighttime economy. 

Mizohata was inspired by the Singapore GP

Photo by: Ferrari

Mizohata was inspired by the Singapore GP

"I went to watch the Singapore Grand Prix, and it was completely different from the image I had of F1. There were live events going on, and there were business meetings for luxury brands at nearby hotels." 

While Osaka’s project is in its early stages, and no formal negotiations over a race contract have begun, it is understood that there has been some preliminary contact with F1 personnel to sound out the idea – which has encouraged the city to push on with its project. 

A final location for the race itself has not been settled on, with Osaka chiefs continuing to weigh up various options – with nothing ruled out yet. 

That could mean a street race through the city, it could mean a permanent track in the nearby prefecture, or it could be a hybrid-style format around the Osaka Expo site on Yumeshima Island, which is being constructed for 2025. 

One factor that would need to be considered would be the finances, with Osaka evaluating how best to get a return on investment, which would likely come from private funds rather than taxpayer money. 

“The circuit itself may be difficult to make [profitable], but if you consider [the economic impact on] the entire city, I think it has potential,” added the bureau representative, who went on to explain that the project was something that would take many years to reach fruition. 

“At this point, I cannot say how many years from now we are aiming to make it happen. I think it will be a long-term plan. 

Osaka is looking to join Suzuka on the calendar, not replace it

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Osaka is looking to join Suzuka on the calendar, not replace it

“I heard that it took a long time for Singapore to hold the event for the first time, so I don't think it will be quick. But if there's a chance, I'll give it a try.” 

Any progress on the Osaka idea would inevitably trigger questions over the future of the current home of the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka – just as Madrid has left Barcelona’s long-term viability in doubt. 

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But Osaka is clear that any event it gets would be as a complement to Suzuka, rather than a replacement. 

“I would like to aim for coexistence and mutual prosperity with Suzuka,” added the bureau representative. “I think it would be great to hold two races in Japan, which is an automobile superpower." 

Suzuka’s current contract to host the Japanese Grand Prix runs until the end of 2024.

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