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Ex-F1 racer Merhi to contest Super Formula Lights finale

by Ida Wood

Photo: Campos Racing

Former Formula 1 racer Roberto Merhi will join the Super Formula Lights grid for the season finale at Okayama next weekend, having signed to race for B-MAX Racing.

Merhi is new to the series but not to Japanese motorsport, as he is currently competing in Super GT’s GT300 class with Team LeMans in a Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3 car. His backers in that series have made his SF Lights debut a possibility.

The 31-year-old returned to single-seater racing earlier this year as he stood in for the injured Ralph Boschung at Campos in Formula 2 and netted a podium in the Red Bull Ring feature race which he very almost won.

“I am very excited to be able to participate in the Super Formula Lights championship, which will be held at Okayama International Circuit,” Merhi said.

“We are fortunate that the revisions to the championship rules have made it easier for experienced drivers to participate.

“The SF Lights machines have high downforce, and I am very much looking forward to it as it is positioned as a step-up category to Super Formula.”

Merhi’s initial junior single-seater career began with three years in Formula Renault 2.0, winning races and coming second in the West European Cup and fourth in the Eurocup in 2008.

He then spent three years in Formula 3, the level at which SF Lights is at, and he dominated the category’s Euro Series in 2011 and won the FIA F3 International Trophy.

Mercedes-Benz then signed him to race in the DTM for two season, but it was a tricky time in touring cars and Merhi took the risk of returning to junior single-seaters for another two years. Winning in FR3.5 almost earned him a route into F1 via Caterham in 2014, but his debut eventually came with Manor a year later.

Merhi missed races that season though and switched to prototype sportscars after that before having a third go at junior single-seater racing in late 2017. He spent over a year in F2 and took two podiums, then returned to LMP2 prototypes before driving in Australia’s Formula Regional-based S5000 Tasman Series at the end of 2021 and in F2 this summer.