Team Tom’s’ Toyota’s Nick Cassidy is the 2019 Super Formula champion after finishing second to Team Mugen Honda’s Tomoki Nojiri at Suzuka finale.
Toyota-backed Kiwi Cassidy came into the final weekend of the 2019 Super Formula season at Suzuka one point behind defending champion Dandelion Honda’s Naoki Yamamoto. It was a five-way fight with three more drivers in contention.
They were Nakajima Racing Honda’s Alex Palou, Kondo Racing Toyota’s Kenta Yamashita and KCMG Toyota’s Kamui Kobayashi, with only Palou having a more decent chance. The Spaniard then scored an extra point with pole on Saturday.
Cassidy qualified sixth behind Yamamoto with Yamashita 11th and Kobayashi only 16th. It was a strategic game then in the Super Formula finale on Sunday at Suzuka as Cassidy started on the soft compound while Yamamoto was on the medium.
At the same time, Kobayashi’s tactics were already wrong with him starting on the wet compound which already put him out of contention. Both Palou and Yamashita’s races went in the opposite direction as well, with the Spaniard needing a second stop.
It all came down to Cassidy and Yamamoto but the Kiwi’s strategy eventually paid off as the Japanese had too much on his hands in the end with the passes he had to make on the different strategy. By the time Cassidy pitted, he had enough gap to Yamamoto.
The medium tyres hung on as well despite being extremely slower as Cassidy ended up second, scoring eight points to have 36 in total. He won it by three points over Yamamoto, who finished fifth with 33 in all. Palou did not score but retained third with 26.
It was redemption for Cassidy after losing the Super Formula title to Yamamoto in 2018 but came back well to go over the line in 2019 to become the first Kiwi to win it. He is also first non-Japanese champion since it was re-branded as Super Formula.
The last non-Japanese to win it was Andre Lotterer – of Team Tom’s’ as well – when the series ran as Formula Nippon in 2011. It was jubilant scenes for Cassidy, while Yamamoto – who had his F1 debut at Suzuka few weeks back – was in tears.
The finale, meanwhile, was won by Mugen’s Nojiri, who started second on the grid. He was on the same strategy as Cassidy. The podium was rounded out by Dandelion’s Nirei Fukuzumi, which his first Super Formula rostrum finish.
Team Impul Toyota’s Yuhi Sekiguchi was fourth with Yamamoto fifth as the rest of the points scoring position had Inging Toyota’s Hiroaki Ishiura in sixth, Real Racing Honda’s Koudai Tsukakoshi seventh and Team Impul Ryo Hirakawa eighth.
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