Formula 1
Saturday, Oct 5 11:26am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

LEAKED: Naoki Yamamoto gets F1 outing at Japanese Grand Prix

Reigning SUPER FORMULA and SUPER GT champion Naoki Yamamoto will drive for Scuderia Toro Rosso in Free Practice 1 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

A test has long been rumoured for the 31-year-old following an impressive 2018. Yamamoto claimed championship wins for Honda in the top flight GT500 division of SUPER GT as well as victory in the Honda-powered Dallara SF14 in SUPER FORMULA.

An unlisted video by Toro Rosso was uploaded to their YouTube channel this week but was promptly taken down.

“I would like to say thank you very much for giving me this great opportunity; Toro Rosso, Red Bull and Honda,” Yamamoto said in the video.

“I’m going to drive Formula 1 in Suzuka, which is my home Grand Prix. I’m very excited and looking forward to driving a Formula 1 car. I’m hoping to see all the Japanese and Honda fans at Suzuka.”

Yamamoto is absent from this weekend’s combined SUPER GT and DTM exhibition at the Hockenheimring. Teammate Jenson Button is instead at the race driving the Team Kunimitsu Honda NSX-GT.

Yamamoto recently went to the Faenza base in Italy for a seat fit. It is not yet known whose car he will drive at Suzuka Circuit.

Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat currently occupy the two Honda-powered Scuderia Toro Rosso STR14s, though there is some uncertainty as to who will be driving for the team next year.

Yamamoto has long been rumoured to be a candidate for a drive in Formula 1, mostly via his relationship with Honda. Despite his age, Honda has repeatedly expressed its desire to have a Japanese driver in a Honda-powered Formula 1 car.

Unfortunately, none of its junior talent has been capable of winning a title in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, a feeder series to Formula 1.