McLaren Snaps: HONDA COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
During the course of the 2016 F1 season, we bring you exclusive access to some of the personalities in the McLaren-Honda Formula 1 team. Meet the men and women who keep the team on track throughout a race weekend, at the circuit and back at the McLaren Technology Centre. This week, the spolight is on Akiko Itoga, Communications Manager for Honda.
Keeks (but I haven’t been called that in years).
Snapping photos from the garage.
Communications Manager for Honda.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED AT MCLAREN?
15 years at Honda, 2nd season with McLaren-Honda.
DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 3 WORDS:
Friendly, emphathetic and hard-working.
FAVOURITE RACE LOCATION & WHY?
Spa-Francorchamps. Rain or shine, the lush greens and the rolling hills always take my breath away.
FIRST McLAREN MEMORY?
The Mika and Michael battles in 2000. Whenever there was a race, my dorm mates and I would gather around the big screen in the lounge and watch the race on Sunday nights. With the time difference in Japan, it was always a late night race so Mondays were tough.
MEMORABLE F1 STORY?
My friend in school worshipped Ayrton Senna. I didn’t have a clue about F1 then, but his enthusiasm for the sport was infectious which led me to first take an interest in F1. When Senna passed away, he came into class red-eyed and devastated. He couldn’t function for weeks. It was heart-breaking to see at that time, but it was through my friend that I learned how emotionally powerful F1 was as a sport, and how drivers connected with fans across the globe. Since then, I have much respect for F1 and everything that evolves around it, and can now enjoy what I do in the paddock.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR THREE F1 TRAVEL ESSENTIALS?
- Noise-cancelling headphones and travel speaker.
- Bath soap: for that favourite scent and comfort of home away from home.
- Travel pressure bags: shrinking clothes is important to fit everything in the suitcase, and allow space for additional shopping when tempted.
BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
Meeting and working with amazing people every day, and having about 100 team members as your second family. Everything is fast-paced and requires split-second decisions, which I love.
FAVOURITE McLAREN DRIVER – PAST OR PRESENT?
Kimi Raikkonen's 2005 Suzuka charge and win still gives me goosebumps.
WHEN NOT AT WORK, I LIKE TO…
Disappear off the grid. Travel far, far away.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOURSELF…
Japanese in nationality, but brought up on the east coast of the US, and now living in the UK, so a bit complicated!
WHAT FUELS YOU THROUGH YOUR DAY (FOOD/MOTIVATION)?
Haribo gummies and music. I am constantly singing in my head while I work!
YOUR FAVOURITE LUBRICATION (DRINK!)?
Café Latte and Jasmine Tea.
IF I WASN’T WORKING IN FORMULA 1, I WOULD BE…
Hard to say. If I wasn’t working at Honda, then maybe creating Japanese subtitles for English movies?
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
When I was 15, I translated a 20-page rare gem catalogue for a jeweller, and a 200 page book, in both instances from Japanese to English. Both terribly serious, and I have absolutely no idea how the requests came about, but it paid really well!