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Super Formula Suzuka II

Matsushita credits new chassis for sudden Suzuka turnaround

Nobuharu Matsushita says getting his hands on a new chassis for the final weekend of the Super Formula season at Suzuka was key to his turnaround, as he finally delivered B-Max Racing's first points of the year.

Nobuharu Matsushita, B-Max Racing Team

Matsushita concluded a tough season with an encouraging seventh-place finish, having run as high as fourth ahead of defending champion Tomoki Nojiri at one stage before losing ground to cars on fresher tyres.

It followed the events of Motegi in August, where Matsushita was involved in the crash triggered by Liam Lawson's spin on the opening lap, which meant both the B-Max driver and Dandelion Racing's Tadasuke Makino took new chassis for the Suzuka weekend.

Reflecting on by far his best weekend of the year, Matsushita said the new chassis was key to his revival, as he managed to spare B-Max a full season without scoring points.

"The fact we changed the chassis is the biggest factor," Matsushita told Motorsport.com. "Saturday was a bit unfortunate because of the red flag in Q2, but [on Sunday] we got through to Q2 again and we did a good job.

"In the race we chose the minimum strategy [pitting on lap 10], but the others went for the long strategy and I couldn’t hold them back when they had fresh tyres. It might have been better to stay out for longer.

"With the new chassis everything became a lot easier, we could analyse a lot more than before. When you change the anti roll-bar stiffness or something, you can feel it. It’s more responsive. Before it wasn’t like this.

"Of course we are still lacking some grip compared to the top guys, so we need to analyse that, but the team did a good job."

 

Despite escaping what he called the "zero club" of drivers that had failed to score points all year, which also included Yuhi Sekiguchi and Raoul Hyman, Matsushita admits that his Suzuka showing may have come too late to rescue his drive for 2024.

"At the moment I don’t have a seat," he stated. "I would like to get one, but I think it will be difficult. You never know, I will keep pushing until the end. Let’s see."

Makino: "Something wrong" with new chassis

On the other hand, Makino suffered a disappointing end to the 2023 season as he finished 10th in the final race at Suzuka, while Dandelion team-mate Kakunoshin Ota scored a first victory.

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Conversely to Matsushita's good feeling in his new chassis, Makino reported that it felt like "something was wrong with the aero" when asked to explain his lack of performance.

"I don’t know what’s happening in the car," Makino told Motorsport.com. "It felt very different to the last few rounds. It felt like no aero everywhere, sometimes too much bouncing.

"When I was behind [Yuji] Kunimoto and Matsushita, my straight line speed was really slow. The exit of corners was ok, but the end of the straight was really slow, too much bottoming or something like this."

 

Makino wrapped up his fifth season in Super Formula sixth in the standings with a best finish of second at Fuji in July, but still in search of his elusive first victory in the category.

The 26-year-old said he was frustrated to essentially lose all the progress he had made with his Dandelion team during the season in the crash that wrote off his previous chassis.

"After the Fuji test, we made a big step, but the big problem was [the crash at] Motegi," stated Makino. "I lost the good feeling in the car. It’s been an upside-down season, a very difficult situation for me.

"I don’t know about my plans for next season yet but for sure I will try to understand what’s happening in the car in the rookie test [at Suzuka in December]. I am looking forward to that."

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