Honda's straight line speed advantage during Super Formula practice at Fuji Speedway has left Ryo Hirakawa "feeling gloomy" for his prospects of winning the title.
Impul Toyota driver Hirakawa heads into this weekend's final round level on points with Honda rival Naoki Yamamoto, and concluded Saturday's opening day of practice third-fastest.
Yamamoto meanwhile was only 13th-quickest across the two sessions as he didn't use any fresh tyres in the afternoon session, but Honda driver Tomoki Nojiri - who heads into the finale as an outsider for the crown - was fastest, heading up a one-two for Team Mugen.
Saturday pacesetter Nojiri sits eight points behind Hirakawa and Yamamoto in the standings, and due to Super Formula's new-for-2020 dropped scores rule he would need to outscore his rivals by at least 12 points this weekend to have any chance of the title.
Given that he needs his rivals to suffer misfortune, the Mugen driver says he is in a relaxed mood ahead of Sunday's decisive race.
"There are a lot of conditions that must be fulfilled for me to win, so at the very least I need to score qualifying points [awarded to the top three] and either win or get on the podium in the race," said Nojiri. "And if that isn't enough, that it can't be helped.
"I think it's good to be in such a position. The main contenders, Hirakawa, Yamamoto and Nick [Cassidy] have all won titles [in either SUPER GT or Super Formula], but personally I have nothing to worry about and I am able to just have fun.
"Of course I want to be champion, but I feel my performances recently have been good, and if this turns out not to be enough, then that's that. And even if I can't perform as well as usual, I won't have any regrets."