Despite Formula 1 being a sport with its origins in Europe, Japanese manufacturers - and later drivers - have been a part of the sports since the 1960's. Honda were the first to enter in 1964 but wouldn't have significant success until they supplied the McLaren and Williams teams during the 1980's and 90's. During this time, the first full-time Japanese F1 drivers began to filter into the sport, and while none have ever won a Grand Prix, they have made a significant impact on the series.
Unfortunately, there aren't any drivers from Japan competing in Formula 1 in 2019, but with Honda back as an engine supplier, the potential for this to change in the near future is very real. With that being said, here are the five best F1 drivers to come from the Japanese archipelago!
#5 Shinji Nakano
When your nation has only produced 20 Formula 1 drivers, some that feature on a top 5 list will probably not be the best. Unfortunately, Shinji Nakano falls into this category, but the man from Osaka was better than his record may suggest.
Nakano's rookie season was with the Prost team, partnering Olivier Panis, just a season after the Frenchman sensationally won the Monaco Grand Prix. In fairness, Panis was on another level to Nakano until the former suffered career-threatening injuries in Canada. However, Nakano did score points on two occasions in '97, not bad for what was an average car.
Nakano was replaced at Prost by Jarno Trulli for 1998, but he retained his place in F1, by driving for Minardi. While Nakano didn't score any points that year, nor did his team-mate. Had the points extended down to tenth like today's racing, Nakano would've scored on four occasions, a decent return for what was one of the worst teams that year.