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Red Bull junior Iwasa initially saw Super Formula as 'negative' move

Iwasa will partner two-time champion Tomoki Nojiri at Team Mugen in Japan’s biggest single-seater championship next year, taking the place vacated by fellow Red Bull academy member Liam Lawson.

The 22-year-old will switch to Super Formula after two seasons racing in Formula 2 for DAMS, scoring five race victories, 11 podiums and securing a best finish of fourth in the championship during that period. 

Given Iwasa has spent the last four years competing in Europe, with his F2 stint preceded by one-year campaigns in French F4 and FIA Formula 3, the Japanese driver wasn’t initially convinced that a domestic campaign would be the right step forward for him.

But having put more thought into his future and examined Red Bull’s involvement in Japan, he has overcome his reservations about Super Formula and now believes it can offer him a path towards a race seat in F1.

“Honestly, to begin with I had a negative impression about going back to Japan, because as a Japanese driver my situation is different from Liam’s,” Iwasa told Japan. 

“I personally really wanted to stay in Europe because it’s the closest place to F1 and that’s where you can gain the most relevant experience. 

“There are many circuits in Super Formula not used in F1, so I thought it was a negative from a point of view of making the next step towards F1.

“But now I feel strongly that it’s a really meaningful step up. Red Bull’s junior programme is running here in Super Formula, and I am continuing to move forward in this sense. 

“Also, it depends on what Red Bull decides and my own performances, but there are many different ways that things could progress from here.”

Liam Lawson, TEAM MUGEN (Photo by: Masahide Kamio)

Super Formula regulations offer far more opportunities to make changes to the car than F2, despite a ban on damper development in the Japanese series next year moving it closer to a spec championship.

Iwasa feels he is ready to work closely with Mugen next year to come up with the best set-up of his car, having already spent time with DAMS in F2 to maximise what was possible within F2 rules.

“According to Liam, in F2 basically there’s no discussion with the team about set-up, and basically you have to show the performance with the car you are given,” Iwasa explained.

“He said that in Super Formula, you have to work with the engineers to improve the car, which is a big difference. 

“But already at DAMS, I feel I have already learned a lot about this. So I think my case may be different to Liam’s. If this is an important factor for success in Super Formula, I think I can expand further on the things I have been doing until now in F2.

“If I can make use of what I have learned up to now, and learn even more, I think I can use this to reach Formula 1.

Ayumu Iwasa, Dams, 1st position, Liam Lawson, Carlin, 3rd position (Photo by: Motorsport Images)
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