Home Featured Iwasa: “Everything feels very new” in Super Formula, but title still the aim

Iwasa: “Everything feels very new” in Super Formula, but title still the aim

by Ida Wood

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

Honda and Red Bull junior Ayumu Iwasa has a Formula 1 future to think about when he steps up from Formula 2 to Super Formula.

After four years in Europe in which he became French Formula 4 champion, took a FIA Formula 3 victory and five wins in F2, Iwasa is heading home to Japan to replace Liam Lawson in Team Mugen’s SF line-up.

Like Iwasa, Lawson took five wins across two F2 seasons then was sent by Red Bull to race in SF last year. He fought for the title until the final round, and was called up by Red Bull’s second F1 team AlphaTauri to drive in five races as a subsititute for the injured Daniel Ricciardo.

Although he scored in that short period on the grid, Lawson missed out on a 2024 F1 seat. However he’s still been summoned back by Red Bull to be reserve driver for its two teams. Iwasa could experience a similiar situation in the future if he stars in SF as a rookie, and he faces a similar challenge to Lawson in the series.

“My feeling is similar to Liam’s, because I’ve always raced abroad since I left Suzuka Racing School [SRS],” said Iwasa. “Everything feels very new. I have a lot of things to learn in this category and from this team. But the target is clearly to become champion this season.”

Iwasa did two F4 events and a Super Taikyu sportscar race in Japan before heading abroad, and on his return to Japan last year got a first taste of SF’s Dallara SF23 at a Honda function then three full days of running at Suzuka in SF’s post-season test. He drove for AlphaTauri in F1 post-season testing a week before going to Suzuka.

“The feeling of the [SF] car was almost exactly how I imagined, just in between F1 and F2,” Iwasa reflected. “If I push more in the corners, it’s getting similar to F1, also in terms of the way you have to drive the car. But in low-speed corners, it feels really similar to F2.”

He added: “The driving style is different because the F2 car is really heavy and has the 18-inch tyre, but the way to improve the car is quite similar.”

Iwasa noted the “quite different” approach his F2 team DAMS took to car set-up prepared him for working with Mugen.

“That process was working really well for me, and it’s quite similar to what Mugen is doing now. I think that’s helping a lot, and I was able to give good feedback from the beginning of the test. I’m using my experience as much as I can.”

The 22-year-old’s team-mate will be two-time champion Tomoki Nojiri, which brings Iwasa’s career full circle as when he was in the SRS in 2019 the now-34-year-old was his instructor.

“I respect him a lot, I know he’s really fast,” said Iwasa. “We need to work together to win the championship for the team, and then we’ll fight together on-track [to be champion].”