Super Formula “more like a proper championship” with extra races
Super Formula expanding its 2022 schedule to 10 races this year means it is “more like a proper championship”, according to some of the series’ leading drivers.
Last month, Japan’s premier single-seater series unveiled a revised calendar featuring three double-header weekends, increasing the number of races from seven to 10 – giving the championship its most expansive calendar since the 2008 season.
The move has received widespread praise, as many in the paddock felt that seven races was insufficient, especially following the abolition of refuelling starting in 2020.
Matters were exacerbated by only five races out of seven counting towards the championship, a move implemented to help drivers forced to miss races due to COVID-19, but this year no scores will be discarded.
Impul driver Ryo Hirakawa believes the increase in the number of races will help reward consistency over one-off strong results.
“Ten races is still not as many as I would like to have, I would prefer 15 or 20 races, but it’s better than last year,” Hirakawa, who will combine Super Formula with a rookie season in the FIA World Endurance Championship driving for Toyota, told Motorsport.com.
“In seven races, if you win one race by luck you’ll be in a good position for the championship. I think with 10 races, it will be fairer.”
Honda’s Nobuharu Matsushita told Motorsport.com he would like to see Super Formula adopt double-headers for every race weekend in future.
“I understand [it’s difficult] because of the budget, but we should be more like Formula 2 – they have 14 weekends and 28 races this year,” said the B-Max Racing driver. “Ten is still not enough. We should do more in my opinion.
“That said, last year we scored points only in five races, this year it’s 10 races, which is more like a proper championship.”
Scrapping Q3 a "mistake", says Fenestraz
Kondo Racing’s Sacha Fenestraz also voiced his support of the increase of the number of races, but was less enthusiastic about the change to the qualifying format for 2022.
Super Formula has opted to do away with the traditional three-stage knockout system in favour of a condensed format, with 12 cars vying for pole in Q2.
“What they did with qualifying in my opinion is a mistake,” Fenestraz told Motorsport.com. “You had that vibe building up, that stress building up through Q1, Q2 and Q3, that was such a good show also, with the difficulty increasing and the best drivers going through.
“Losing that is a bit of a shame, and tracks like Sugo with 12 cars in Q2, it’s going to be more of a mess and won’t be as good a show.”
However, Hirakawa welcomed the move to shorten what he perceived to be a bloated qualifying format, with Q1 and Q2 both having been split into two groups in recent seasons.
“Last year, qualifying was too long with Q1A, Q1B, Q2A, Q2B… it took almost an hour and a half,” said the 2020 runner-up. “To be able to make the race in the same afternoon, we had to shorten it.
"It’s fine to do just Q1 and Q2, I don’t think it’s going to be any less exciting.”
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