Liam Lawson is not fussed at losing the 2023 Super Formula title after the final round in Suzuka as he credits for good learning.
Round 9 of the 2023 Japanese Super Formula Championship was held on Sunday, October 29th at Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture, and Katsunoshin Ohta took his first win in the final round of his rookie year. Also, Rio Miyata won the Drivers’ Championship in his fourth year racing with Super Formula.
The Suzuka Final was held over two days, Saturday and Sunday, with two races. Due to the crash in the Round 8, held on the previous day, Ukyo Sasahara (VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S) and Hiroki Otsu (TCS NAKAJIMA RACING) were unable to participate in the race, leaving 20 entries at the 22nd JAF Suzuka Grand Prix. The knockout style qualifying for Round 9 kicked off at 8:50am.
In Qualifying A, Tomoki Nojiri (TEAM MUGEN), who is aiming for his 3rd consecutive Drivers’ title, went through Q1 with the top time. In Qualifying B, top ranked Ritomo Miyata (VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S) was 2nd, and 3rd in the Championshipʼs ranking Liam Lawson (TEAM MUGEN) passed Q1 with the top time in B group.
In Q2, where the top 6 drivers in each group, 12 drivers in total, were to compete, Lawson showed a determined time attack and took pole position, Ohta came in 2nd and Nojiri in 3rd, and Miyata, the seasonʼs top ranked driver, finishing 4th in the Qualifying session. The starting grid for the seasonʼs final race, which will decide the Championship, was lined up with the top three ranked drivers from the bottom to the top, promising a very exciting and a fierce final race.
At 2:30 p.m., under the temperature of 20 degrees Celsius and track surface temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, after one lap of formation lap, the 31 lap Round 9 race kicked off at the 5.8 km Suzuka Circuit. Nojiri, who started 3rd, was passed by Miyata and dropped to 4th as he was blocked by Lawson, who got off to a slow start. In the early laps of the race, the top four cars were evenly spaced, but after 10 laps were completed when tires could be changed, Miyata went for the mandatory pit stop at the end of lap 12. The team made quick work to get him back on the course.
At the end of lap 13, Lawson came into the pits. He, too, made no mistake and returned to the course, but was locked in a fierce battle for position with Miyata, who was right behind him. However, Lawson was able to hold off Miyata on the inside at each corner to prevent Miyata from making a comeback. Meanwhile, the leader, Ohta, pits and successfully returns to the course still in the lead.
Nojiri stayed on the course without changing tires until the end, but his pace did not improve and he finally made the pit stop on the 23rd lap. On the out lap after the tire change, he allowed Nobuharu Matsushita (B-MAX RACING TEAM) to pass him, but on the 26th lap, Nojiri was able to regain the lead at the chicane, and moved back up to 4th position. However, he could not reach Miyata, who was running in front, and finished the race in 4th position.
The gap between Ohta and Lawson, who was defending the lead, remained close, but Ohta held on until the end to take his first win in the final round of his rookie year. As a result, Ohta won the 9th round, Lawson came in 2nd, and Miyata came in 3rd. With the result of Round 9, Miyata, in his fourth year in the series, was crowned the long-sought Driver’s
“I think it’s been a really great, amazing year. It’s been a very tough season too,” said Lawson after finishing second in the drivers’ standings. “Nick Cassidy, who raced in Super Formula in the past I’m good friends with him, and I’ve heard the same thing from him, and he always told me. It takes time to see results.
“But, do your best! I thought it was a big challenge for me (participating in Super Formula), so I wanted to get as much help as possible from everyone and make it all my own.Season Looking back, I think it was a really good season. It’s a shame that we didn’t win the championship, but I think Miyata ran a great and stable race throughout the year.
“He was always on the podium. I am truly honored to have been able to compete with TEAM MUGEN for one year. I learned a lot in preparation for F1, and it had a big influence on me. The growth I was able to do with TEAM MUGEN in Super Formula also helped me in F1 as well. I think we connected. I’m very grateful,” summed up Lawson.
Here’s full standings and results: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_Super_Formula_Championship
[Note: The story is as per press release]