Red Bull F1 junior Pierre Gasly lands in Super Formula for 2017 – introducing Japan’s single seater series
Red Bull Racing
Super Formula
Posted By: Editor   |  13 Feb 2017   |  1:06 pm GMT  |  32 comments

Red Bull reserve Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly will race for the Team Mugen squad in the 2017 Super Formula season.

Gasly, who won the 2016 GP2 title for the Prema team last season, will follow in the footsteps of McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, who raced in the Japanese championship after clinching the F1 feeder series’ 2015 crown.

Like Vandoorne last year, Gasly finds his path to an F1 race seat blocked as both Red Bull teams will keep the same line-ups they had at the end of 2016. Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen will race for the senior squad, while Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat will continue at Toro Rosso.

Pierre Gasly

Kvyat’s position at the Faenza-based team had been under threat for much of last season after he was demoted and replaced by Verstappen after a disastrous performance at the 2016 Russian Grand Prix, and Gasly’s GP2 performances added to the pressure being placed on the 22-year-old.

But Red Bull opted to keep Kvyat at Toro Rosso for another season, which will be his fourth year racing in F1.

When Gasly discovered that he would not be promoted to F1 in 2017, he expressed his disappointment at the situation but did go on to secure the GP2 title ahead of his Prema teammate Antonio Giovinazzi.

Pierre Gasly

After he became the fifth successive GP2 champion not to graduate directly to F1 the following year – Romain Grosjean was the last driver to do so after he was picked up by Lotus in 2012 – Gasly was forced to look at other options to keep him race sharp while spending 2017 as Red Bull’s reserve driver.

When his Super Formula entry was first confirmed earlier this year, Gasly expressed his excitement at racing in a car that has similar corning speeds to an F1 machine, albeit with less overall power.

He said: “This a big new challenge for me and that is exactly what I love. It is all going to be very different, I have no experience with the car or the tracks and I know that the Japanese culture, philosophy, way of working, just about everything is different.

Pierre Gasly

“I am also really pleased to be third driver at Red Bull Racing for another season, to work closely with Max and Daniel, gaining more experience on how the team works, how they behave at the GPs. There is a lot to learn about the new car and new regulations, it is all very valuable.

“Super Formula will help with that, a bit less power than a GP2 car so slower in a straight line but with more aero so quicker through the corners and that also relates to this year’s F1 car.”

What is Super Formula?

Super Formula, which was previously known as Formula Nippon, is the premier single seater category in Japan and has a history stretching back to 1973 when it began life as a Formula 2000 series and later became a Formula 3000 championship.

Japanese F1 drivers Kunimitsu Takahashi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Satoru Nakajim raced in Super Formula’s F3000 era, as did Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Ralf Schumacher, Pedro de la Rosa and Eddie Irvine during their junior single seater careers.

Super Formula

Today the series uses spec Dallara-built cars that are powered by either Honda or Toyota 2,000cc engines. The Super Formula’s website states that the championship is aimed at being a “third great open-wheel racing competition after Formula 1 and IndyCar.”

The high-downforce, high-power nature of the Super Formula cars has led to a number of top line drivers opting to take part in the seven-round championship alongside their commitments to racing in other categories.

World Endurance Championship racers, and former F1 drivers, Kamui Kobayashi, Narain Karthikeyan, André Lotterer and Kazuki Nakajima will all line up alongside Gasly in 2017, and the latter two have won the series in the past.

When he was confirmed as a Team Mugen driver earlier today, Gasly tweeted that he was “super excited” for what he hopes will be a one-year stopover in Super Formula before moving into F1 for 2018.

Vandoorne, who will race alongside Fernando Alonso at McLaren this year, won two Super Formula races during his single season in the championship and sets the bar for Gasly’s progression. But any chance of the 21-year-old Frenchman’s F1 dreams becoming a reality for next year hinges on a spot opening up in the line-ups at Red Bull or Toro Rosso.

What do you make of the news that Gasly will race for Team Mugen in the 2017 Super Formula championship? Do you think he will make it to F1 next year? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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A Red Bull contracted driver in a Honda powered car. Could this be RBR hedging their bets for a future supplier switch if Honda produce a competitive engine?


I wonder if we are seeing a mini-revival of Japanese single-seaters. As the article alludes, in the 1990s Japan was popular with aspiring young racers and many made it to F1 off the back of a Japanese F3000/Formula Nippon campaign (in addition to the article, think Salo, Herbert, Roland Ratzenberger and Tora Takagi). But by the mid-2000s it was mostly a hotbed of drivers who, while competent, would never get to F1 and were mostly keeping their single-seater eye in whilst also focusing on “tin-tops” (Treluyer, Duval, Matsuda, Richard Lyons and Lotterer – of which only Lotterer could really be deemed hard done by never to have got a proper F1 chance).

But maybe with the new car, the bolstered calendar and the ex-F1 drivers competing it is becoming attractive again, and the inclusion of Vandoorne and Gasly can only help. I’m not sure how many points you get towards the Super Licence for competing in Super Formula but if it’s quite high then that’s another feather in its cap. It’s a risk for Gasly (Vandoorne had a tricky start though recovered well) but I wish him well.


Off topic: Question about F1 Technical Regulations. Can someone tell me who are the men and women who decides and writes the technical regulations? Rumors are that Ferrari will protest the rejection of their complain about the Mercedes and Red Bull suspension system. If I understand well, someone from the FIA was assigned, check the matter in question and concluded that all was fine. How can teams spend many hundreds of millions in engineering their F1 car and sometimes be confused about the regulations, but yet the men and women working for the FIA best all of them and always know what is right and wrong. Why doesn’t an F1 team spend big money on buying FIA engineers and letting them work for them?


From the Super Formula website…

SUPER FORMULA races are run on world championship tracks such as Suzuka Circuit, Fuji Speedway and Twin Ring Motegi

Suzuka and Fuji in the same championship, 2 litre engines and (presumably) tyres that are up to the task… I’ve been looking around for an alternative series to follow. This one looks interesting.


Just a correction: Kvyat us going into his fourth season not his fifth. Nevertheless great article!


Only option really, other than crossing the pond, and better than sitting on the subs bench all season.


James the trick suspension row seems to have hit a wall. With those that have developed the system and those that have not. Basically Ferrari are in a group on their own. If it ends with the Stewards are Australia the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull may end up disqualified if the Stewards are affiliated with The Ferrari International Adjustment (FIA) governance body. This hold end up being an ugly appeal case. On the first race with the new owners. Whiting can only advise he can’t actually ban it without an overall consensus.
So Australia may end a comedy of errors for the big teams.


The point is that ferrari don’t appear to know exactly what mercedes and red bull actually have on their cars! I see this more as a fishing expedition and depending on what they catch on the hook will determine which way they will go. tricky, but so far they haven’t caught anything…maybe they need better bait?


Well, it will be nice to see Sauber win a race…you know, after everyone else is disqualified…go Sauber! 😀


Crazy start to new season once again😨😄 F1 doesn’t know it’s rear from its elbow ! Once again.


Good luck to the fella.
Mugen a total racing brand.


The more you look at it, the less sense Red Bull’s decision to keep Kvyat makes. He has zero chance of getting repromoted, so why keep him in the feeder team at the expense of Gasly? Surely after being utterly ruthless for so long Red Bull aren’t going soft? Maybe Kvyat has a cast iron contract and Red Bull don’t want the mess of having to pay it out…


Don’t think they are going soft, in fact I would not be surprised if Kvyat cops another blindside similar to last year. Helmut reminds me a little of Patrick Head. Once a driver gets that little bit of a psychological smell about them….remember Frentzen or even Damon’s departure for that matter? Gooone!!


@ Andrew M…i read it as saying that they wanted one more year with Ghastly in a learning situation and keeping kvyat on for one more year was a sensible move. Who knows but i very much doubt that marko has all of a sudden come on all soft!


When Kvyat’s good, he’s very good. I’m sure Red Bull are just giving him time to show more consistency. Gasly isn’t a sure bet to be a better driver, and now they have good drivers in four seats, they can take things a bit easier. As Chris points out, he could fall by the wayside before the season is out.

On another note, at the rate of Red bull drivers coming in, the entire grid will soon be ex/current Red Bull drivers.


Kvyat outscored Ricciardo in 2015, so he must be a reasonable driver…


@james T…given the overall quality they bring that would be good thing.


I’m surprised that they kept Kvyat, but not in the same breath. I remember getting a ride in from the airport in Melbourne with a bus driver that worked with Toro Rosso a few years back. He was telling us about a Russian backer that he had to wait on hand and foot at the request of then-STR team boss Gerhard Berger. Even if that meant waiting idle in the hotel car park for hours at a time.

Turfing Kvyat could come at the cost of alienating a significant benefactor.


Kyvat will probably be dropped around the European season summer break – no, I’m not a clairvoyant…………but look at recent Formula 1 history: Bourdais dumped mid season, Piquet Junior dropped mid-season, Villeneuve Junior booted out mid season………


Don’t rule out a change yet. History has a strange habit of repeating itself, and I wouldn’t be suprised if Kvyat fails to see out the season. I think Red Bull have kept him on for now (sympathy vote if you like), and they will use it as a PR move to say – hey we gave him every chance (one year I’m betting on – So around the start of the European season). They will then bring in Gasly in a massive PR stunt, which will ensure Red Bull is dominating the F1 news again. That is of course presuming Danni isn’t doing anything special in the Torro Rosso – and if he is – Red Bull can’t lose can they?

Is that Gasleys new car? Stunning looking isn’t it!


Yeah… it’s remarkable how the cars in every other series look more like proper Formula One cars these days…..


Further, judging by the car in the picture, looks like they have a car ready for Kvyat to take 😉


I’m not sure that anyone outside of Red Bull can offer a reasonable explanation, so I’m open to any and all unreasonable explanations 🙂


erm…Russian, so, links to Putin?
hmmm…Red Bull and Torro Rosso are about to field 3 car teams, Sainz to join Dan ‘n Max so the best Red Bull kid/toddler/baby/fetus can join Danni?


Well i know very little about the series and very little about the driver but it can only be good for the lad. Experience is gold. I just love to see these young guys progress as they are the tomorrow of F1. Red Bull do an enormous amount in motor racing and they have a proven track record of coming up with the goods. They deserve accolades for the effort.


As Alan Jones once said, you don’t get any faster in your living room.

It is interesting that we haven’t had any GP2 graduates for some time – although I’m not sure if that is a comment on the state of GP2 or on F1 itself.


Article does mention Grosjean as last to go direct… and we all know how good that made Lotus look… recording an on-track incident in nearly half the race weekends for 2012 including 1 race ban for his recklessness at Spa.

Besides, the current F1 talent pool is plenty deep and the F3 bandwagon is in full effect.


BigHaydo, the article only talks about champions graduating straight from GP2 to F1, it seems the teams like a year of test and development before stepping up now. Palmer, Rossi, Ericsson, Nasr and Vandoorne all went through GP2 before getting into F1. Giovanazi and Gasly are both clearly destined to make their debuts on the big stage at some point.


At Super Formula, as a rookie you have a chance to compete with other drivers with 10-year experience such as Andre Lotterer, which I can say, is usually only happens at F1.

You can see Ralf Schumacher (the 1996 champion) as the best example of Super Formula alumni.


“Only other series you can race guys with 10 years experience”….Umm, think you’re forgetting Indycar, with driver’s like Power, Dixon, Montoya, Castroneves, Kanaan, etc.


I admit I missed IndyCar. But, having seen IndyCar and Super Formula schedule, IndyCar has much more schedule clash with F1 and we know Pierre Gasly is also Toro Rosso’s test driver & has to be ready if needed.


Less F1 grads coming out of Indycar these days, though. Montoya, Bourdais and Da Matta were the last of that breed (to date)

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