Habsburg "very interested" in racing in Japan in 2021
Ferdinand Habsburg says he is exploring the possibility of racing in Japan next year, as he evaluates his options following the demise of the DTM’s Class One regulations.
Habsburg shined in his second season in the DTM this year with Audi’s customer team WRT, scoring a podium and a pole position in the latter part of the season to earn a top-10 position in the drivers’ standings.
With the DTM switching to GT3 cars in 2021, Habsburg is keeping his options open for next year, but is seriously evaluating the possibility of racing in Japan’s increasingly popular Super Formula and SUPER GT championships.
Out of the drivers on the 2020 DTM grid, Loic Duval enjoyed a long and successful tenure in Japan, winning a title apiece in Super Formula and SUPER GT, while both Harrison Newey and Lucas Auer raced in Super Formula as teammates last year.
Habsburg says he wants to contest a regional championship in 2021 due to possible travel restrictions arising out of the coronavirus pandemic, and could be tempted into racing in Japan following the success of his former European F3 rival and friend Sacha Fenestraz.
“I think one of the things not to forget is that you also have to incorporate the fact that corona might still be a factor in your season next year,” Habsburg told Motorsport.com. “So probably a championship in which I don’t travel much is something useful.
“So I’d probably prefer a championship which is European-based, Japanese-based or American-based. SUPER GT would be super-interesting because it’s such a great championship.
“I’ve been speaking obviously to one of my close friends Sacha Fenestraz, he’s out there and he talks about how he loves his job out there.
“There’s nothing concrete yet, I’m still waiting for everything to come to an end and for people to start thinking about what they are going to do next year. But I would be very interested in heading in that direction if that opportunity arose.”
While SUPER GT has clamped down on post-season testing this year to control costs, Super Formula will hold its usual rookie test after the season concludes at Fuji Speedway.
“If I had the chance to race in Super Formula, I’d definitely go start training my neck a little more because it has a bit more G-force than most of the cars I’ve driven," added Habsburg. "But that’s something I’ll happily do if I get the opportunity to do something like that.”
Fenestraz signed a factory Toyota contract for 2020 after plying his trade in Japanese F3 and SUPER GT’s GT300 class last year, with a title win in the former series helping him secure an immediate graduation to the Japan’s two biggest racing categories.
Despite having past experience in Class One cars that will continue to be used in GT500 until 2023, and two seasons in European F3, Habsburg is aware that he will have to earn his seat in Japan by impressing one of the three big manufacturers.
“I’m aware that it’s a very culturally driven championship and coming in as a foreigner is something you really need to prove yourself first,” the Austrian driver said.
“So I’d say probably if they give me a chance to prove myself I hope I would and then hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to drive.
“It’s very difficult because if there’s a test, I definitely have to quarantine for two weeks in Japan. [But] that would be probably a sacrifice worth taking.”
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