Unfortunately, the Gundam partnership is only limited to decals and not rocket thrusters or Hyper Bazookas.
Well given that anime has slowly been more ingratiated into mainstream pop culture and having a Japanese driver on the grid, it was only a matter of time that an anime IP will make its way into F1. And it appears that the time is now, as Scuderia AlphaTauri has recently announced a special one-off event partnership with Bandai Namco Entertainment America Inc. to bring the Gundam franchise to the grid for the upcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix.
Throughout the race week, Scuderia AlphaTauri drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo will be showcasing Gundam decals of the RX-78-2 GUNDAM and XVX-016 GUNDAM Aerial on the headrests of their AT04 F1 cars as they battle for points around the Las Vegas Strip Circuit. In addition to the decals on the racing cars too, fans heading to the night race will be able to experience nearly ten-foot tall GUNDAM statues on display around the team’s facilities, while those not making it to the race can still enjoy a promotional video with driver Yuki Tsunoda in an iconic Gundam-inspired racing suit.
Further commemorating this partnership as well is a custom-designed Perfect-Grade Unleashed model of the Mobile Suit RX-78-2 GUNDAM with exclusive Scuderia AlphaTauri decals and colours, though this particular model is unfortunately only for display. There are nevertheless to be two GUNDAM BASE POP-UP Stores located by Elara by Hilton and The Park by MGM around the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, for anyone who wishes to stock up on mecha merchandise while at the race.
“One of the longest running Sci-Fi franchises in the world, GUNDAM has always been able to connect with fans all around the globe with its featured themes of heroism, standing up to adversity, and overcoming tremendous odds, mirroring in fiction the real-life challenges F1 drivers face each and every race,” said Karim Farghaly, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Bandai Namco Entertainment America Inc. “We partnered with Scuderia AlphaTauri because of their vision and cooperation to help bring GUNDAM to the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix, in a way that will be memorable and meaningful to both F1 fans and GUNDAM fans alike.”
“GUNDAM is a globally recognised and beloved media franchise with passionate fans in every corner of the world. We immediately embraced the GUNDAM spirit and are delighted to welcome them as a partner of Scuderia AlphaTauri for the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix,” said Fabian Wrabetz, Director of Marketing and Communication at Scuderia AlphaTauri. “This will be a collaboration to remember with multiple on and off-track activations that will push the limits of fan engagement in a fun and exciting way.”
While still rather cool to see a Gundam against the Las Vegas backdrop, it does however feel like a missed opportunity for this one-off collaboration to not take place during the Japanese GP instead. Because how cool will it be to see an F1 car next to the life-sized mecha in Tokyo’s Odaiba, or perhaps even next to the colossus that actually moves at Gundam Factory Yokohama!
Also now that Gundam has broken the glass ceiling for anime collaborations in F1, it would not be too fantastical to think that we could be seeing more tie-ins in the future too(?) And since there is a rather good anime about Formula 4 that is currently airing, it would certainly be rather nice to see at least a nod to it on the real-life grid.