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SF Lights champion Natori to sit out 2022 as F2 plans collapse

by Roger Gascoigne

Photo: Super Formula Lights

Super Formula Lights champion Teppei Natori has announced that he will not race this year, either in Europe or Japan.

Natori drove for Trident in Formula 2’s post-season test at Yas Marina Circuit last month and had been linked to a race seat with the team for 2022, with some even reporting he had already been signed alongside rookie Calan Williams.

That test came about via long-time sponsor Buzz, the company that had also facilitated Natori’s ill-fated attempt at debuting in Super Formula in 2020. By going to Abu Dhabi, Natori passed up the option to do SF’s 2021 rookie test.

The 21-year-old, who won in Europe in a double Formula 3 programme in 2019, was enthusiastic about having the “great opportunity for us to move towards our goal of Formula 1 and we will do everything we can now to make the most of [it]” for 2022.

He announced that “we have been preparing for overseas expansion again since November, and although it was decided to expand overseas in December, we abandoned overseas expansion due to disagreement with the management company.”

Natori has subsequently made clear that this does not refer to his personal management company, Polyvalent Management.

“In the meantime, I received many offers to race race in Japan, but I had already decided to expand overseas, so I refused all of them,” he added.

The SF rookie test at Suzuka was the week before F2 testing, and Natori would have had a free berth there as SF Lights champion. However his chances of finding a race seat were budget limited, as he was dropped from Honda’s junior driver scheme at the start of 2021 and crowfunding contributed to him completing the SF Lights season.

As a result, he has been forced to take a break from racing for a year. He told his followers on social media: “I am currently already working on a daily basis for the 2023 season. I will do my best to show you a strong run in the 2023 season.”

Last year he also raced in Super GT300, coming 25th in the standings in a Team UpGarage-run Honda NSX GT3 Evo.