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The unsolved mystery of the Japanese-backed McLaren F1 B-team
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The unsolved mystery of the Japanese-backed McLaren F1 B-team

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Direxiv’s bid to join the Formula 1 grid for 2008 looked to have big-money backing, big-name associations and a plan to give Lewis Hamilton his big break. But shrouded in mystery, it all fell apart, leaving those who were slated to be involved in the project bemused

History is littered with failed Formula 1 projects, but one of the most intriguing and bewildering flops of this century was one that aimed to make Jean Alesi a team principal and could have provided Lewis Hamilton’s first F1 drive in a Ron Dennis-blessed, Japanese-funded, McLaren-Mercedes B-team.

The mysterious figure behind the Direxiv plan was Shin Akiyama, who from Monaco ran a Tokyo-based investment company that aimed to expand by “collaborating with European organisations looking to enter into the Japanese market using motorsports as a medium for promotions throughout Europe and Japan”. He was from a wealthy family background, sustained by a pharmaceutical products business, and had some serious cash to splash.

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