Honda protege Nobuharu Matsushita says he is fully confident he can finish in the top three of this year’s Formula 2 standings and get the superlicence points needed for F1.
Matsushita, 23, is in his third season of F2 (formerly GP2) with ART Grand Prix, and lies sixth in the current standings with sprint race wins in Barcelona and Hungary to his name.
However, in order to get the 40 superlicence points required to race in F1, Matsushita would have to finish no worse than third in the F2 standings, as he'd been ninth and 11th in his first two seasons in the category.
With four rounds remaining, Russian Time driver Artem Markelov holds third place in the points, 32 points ahead of Matsushita, with Nicholas Latifi (DAMS) and Luca Ghiotto (Russian Time) also between the pair.
“This year my objective is to be in the top three of F2, to get the superlicence to do F1 next year,” said the Japanese driver. “I have to do well in F2, and we will see next year.
“I think it’s very possible. We had some difficult weekends before this weekend [in Hungary] but Spa is my favourite [track], the car will be very good also. I’m positive for the next races. I can do a good job I think.”
Asked by Motorsport.com if he could stay in F2 for a fourth season if he missed this objective, he replied: “No, I don’t think so. But I will be in the top three."
Matsushita got his first taste of F1 machinery when he tested for Sauber at the Hungaroring earlier this month, a legacy of the Swiss team’s now-aborted deal to run Honda engines in 2018.
Talks are ongoing between the Japanese company and Toro Rosso about an engine supply for next season, and an agreement could result in Matsushita landing a race seat with the Italian squad.
But, asked about a possible future at Toro Rosso, Matsushita would only say: “This is out of my control. I just need to do a good job with F2."