Japanese Super Formula (previously known as Formula Nippon) got started over the weekend at Suzuka. The race was won by Takuya Izawa after Takashi Kogure hit trouble in the closing laps. However, Kogure was able to hold off Naoki Yamamoto to retain 3rd place, having been passed by Tsugio Matsuda in the final corners.
Former F1 drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Takuma Sato finished 5th and 15th, respectively. All 19 cars made the finish, though Briton James Rossiter crashed heavily at the Esses in qualifying.
@ned-flanders Not sure. The last driver to come straight from Formula Nippon was Yuji Ide, and we all know how that ended! He was 2nd in FNippon in 2005, so not exactly a back-marker either.
No idea how the standard compares though. It’s interesting to see Sato struggling after a decent year in IndyCar, and Ralph Firman did respectably when he came to F1 after winning the FNippon title in ’02.
@geplly It is. You can get 400 rpm extra for 20 seconds, which you can use up to 5 times per race. The LEDs flash to show that you’re using it.
Lin- I’m not suggesting that Nakajima deserves a return- he was pretty mediocre at Williams- but it’s unusual for there not to be a Japanese driver on the grid, and maybe Honda’s return will bring the Japanese funding to support them
The Japanese usually focus on a team or manufacturer rather than the drivers themselves, so I’m not sure if Honda or anyone else would make that investment. If a Japanese driver were to be successful that could change but, Kobayashi aside, there’s no-one who stands out coming through. It creates a bit of a vicious circle.
I think much of the problem is that most of the best drivers stay in Japan and eventually get into FN or SuperGT (which can eventually get you into Le Mans), when neither of these series get much attention from the European teams that matter. Nakajima, Kobayashi and Sato all came to Europe, but for various reasons they’re very much in the minority.
Even when FN was well regarded, most of the drivers who went to F1 from there were foreign (Ralf, Frentzen, De La Rosa, Salo, Irvine).