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A Year Without F1

A Year Without F1: Race 12 – Japanese Super Formula – Motegi

20 Aug , 2014  

As the F1 fraternity takes to the awesome tarmac that is Spa Francorchamps and the Belgian Grand Prix we here at Carwitter are making our second trip to Japan, this time to Motegi and the Japanese Super Formula Championship.

Super Formula Japan 2014 - carwitter

The Japanese Super Formula is the premier single seater series in Japan. It has undergone several guises since its inception in the 70’s, the aim has pretty much remained the same, producing top level racing drivers from the country.

Alongside the Super GT series we featured a few weeks back it has certainly done that, so much so that many familiar European drivers have also passed through the championship.

RaceChip

Super Formula 2014 - Car 3 - carwitter

So what is it like a national F3 series?

No no far from! The championship started out as the Japanese Formula 2000 series in 1973 and moved through Japanese Formula 2, F3000 and Formula Nippon before, last year being once again renamed Super Formula.

Super Formula 2014 - Car 2 - carwitter

JSF sees teams running “spec” Dallara chassis with the engines coming from either Honda or Toyota, no real surprise there! It has, in the past been seen as on a level (maybe just under) as the GP2 or Formula Renault 3.5 championships.

Ok, so who are the people to watch?

Well I’m no expert on upcoming Japanese racing drivers but there is quite a lot of talent on offer up and down the grid, among the local talent you will find former F1 drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi, French former A1 GP star (remember that!) Loic Duval and, perhaps more surprisingly WEC frontrunners in the shape of Kazuki Nakajima and Andre Lotterer as team mates in the Petronas Toms Toyota team, yes a factory Audi driver in a Toyota powered machine alongside a works Toyota driver!

So it can be a career launcher then this series?

Well yes I suppose so, both Lotterer and Nakajima have won the title along with many other distinguished racers including Dutch WTCC star Tom Coronel, Ralf Schumacher, 3 time Le Mans 24 Hour winner Benoit Treluyer and Nissan Delta Wing pilot Satoshi Motoyama.

Super Formula 2014 - Car 1 - carwitter

The 2013 season was won by Naoki Yamamoto thanks in part to Lotterer not competeing at Suzuka due to Audi commitments in WEC.

Former Ferrari and Jaguar F1 start Eddie Irvine passed through the championship on his way to F1 as did Heinz Harald Frentzen. The legend that is Tom Kristensen competed in the 90s, as did the late Roland Ratzenberger.

Well this sounds great but where can I see it?

Unfortunately, like the Japanese Super GT there is no UK coverage (that I could find) of this series, however, there does seem to be some YouTube uploads of the various races and sessions if you look hard enough, again please don’t ask for a translation.

 

Update: Andre Lotterer has now joined Caterham F1 team.

By
BTCC Correspondent