Honda protege Matsushita targets F1 within three years

Japanese GP2 racer Nobuharu Matsushita aims to get a crack at Formula 1 within three years, but says it is ultimately up to Honda to determine his future.

Honda protege Matsushita targets F1 within three years
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Podium: second place Stoffel Vandoorne and winner Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix and third place Sergey Sirotkin, Rapax
Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Nobuharu Matsushita
Nobuharu Matsushita
Nobuharu Matsushita
Race 3 winner Nobuharu Matsushita, second place Jake Dennis, third place Tatiana Calderon
Nobuharu Matsushita
Winner: Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix
Winner Nobuharu Matsushita, ART Grand Prix hugs Yasuhisa Arai, Head of Motorsport, Honda
Nobuharu Matsushita

Only in his first year of GP2, the Honda protege has shown glimpses of massive potential, repaying the faith shown in him by his backers by scoring two podiums, including a win, this season.

But the 22-year-old is not banking on the success he has achieved until now, and plans to continue working towards an opportunity to join the competitive F1 grid in "three years' time."

"I'll probably do GP2 again next year, get some good results and push for F1 as a reserve driver or driver, I don't know yet," Matsushita told Motorsport.com.

When asked if McLaren will play any role on his future, he said: "I am a Honda driver and so there is no involvement of McLaren.

"If I do GP2 [in 2016], I should do it with ART Grand Prix [again] but I am not sure, it depends on Honda.

"The decision has not been made yet, maybe after the season. At this moment, nothing is final, it depends on my desire, on Honda and also on other drivers."

Having started his racing career at the age of four, the Japanese driver only dreams of racing in F1, ruling out a switch to sportscars for the time being.

Learning curve in Europe

After four years of competing in China and Japan, Matsushita was faced with a huge step to come from Asia and begin to ply his trade in Europe.

"It is very difficult, I don't have the experience of many circuits in Europe. Every time for me is a first time and we have only 45 minutes practice before qualifying, which makes it harder," he said.

"For me it is a big step, from Japanese F3 to GP2. The engines are bigger, the tyres are bigger and there is lots of competition.

"The drivers are much more aggressive and they know the tracks, they have experience of racing on it, but I am learning.

"At Spa and Monza, I had contact and lost out - because in GP2, if you lose one place, you tend to lose a lot more positions, which makes it difficult to survive."

Matsushita currently sits 11th in the GP2 standings, while his ART teammate Stoffel Vandoorne - who, ironically, could find himself racing in Japan next year - has already sealed the title.

With Matsushita's solid points haul adding to Vandoorne's dominance, the duo are set to secure the teams' crown as well.

Ahead of the final two GP2 rounds of 2015, Matsushita was out getting valuable track time at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina circuit in the Indian-based MRF Challenge, where he notched up a pole position and two wins.

"It is really nice to compete here because I am racing against some experienced drivers from European F3 and it is a good way to prepare for Bahrain and Abu Dhabi," he said.

The ART driver now aims to find the sweet spot to be able to challenge for victories in the remaining GP2 rounds and end the season on a high.

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Series FIA F2
Drivers Nobuharu Matsushita
Teams ART Grand Prix
Author Darshan Chokhani
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