One of the worst kept secrets in motorsport has finally been confirmed, Liam Lawson on the roster to compete in 2023’s Super Formula. The 20-year-old will join Team Mugen after two seasons in Formula 2.
Lawson will remain as Red Bull’s reserve driver in addition to his role in Japan where the outfit have sent him for further development in search of a 2024 full-time Formula 1 drive.
He’ll partner defending champion Tomoki Nojiri, replacing Ukyo Sasahara who heads to Toyota.
It’s a team that gives the young Kiwi a shot to not only compete for victories but also continue his development, which he says is key.
“I’ve raced in Formula 2, and this car is a step up – it’s a lot faster, the [levels of] downforce, so between now and next year I’ll be training a lot more,” Lawson said.
“It’s going to be a big adjustment for me – the goal for next season, I’d like to be fighting for the championship, I think I’m in the best possible position with Mugen, so I’m excited.
“Formula 1 is my dream but the focus for me right now is Super Formula, so that’s all I’m thinking about for next season,” he added.
Lawson has had a strong 2022 in Formula 2, claiming four F2 victories on his way to finishing third in the drivers standings. He also put in three F1 practice sessions, two with AlphaTauri and the other, most notably, in Max Verstappen’s championship winning Red Bull.
The signing comes as Red Bull revive their Junior Driver partnership with Mugen which previously ran from 2017 until 2021. In 2022 they partnered with Team Goh but were let down by poor performance and reliability whilst Mugen claimed their maiden teams title.
Whilst not physically located in the dominant European motorsport scene, Super Formula is considered one of top-ranked series in Asia. All drivers race in a Dallara SF19 but the make of engine can be either Honda or Toyota. The two manufacturers leave little on the table in the attempt to out-better the other, making the series extremely fast-paced and competitive.
With their Honda affiliation, Red Bull’s partnership with the series makes obvious sense for both driver development and commercial benefit. Previous racers in their Super Formula camp include Pierre Gasly, Dan Ticktum, Pato O’Ward and Juri Vips.
New Zealander Nick Cassidy also won the title in 2019 with Vantelin Team TOM’S, a Toyota powered outfit.
The announcement comes as no surprise following comments made by junior team boss Helmut Marko last month. Lawson was also in Japan testing with Mugen just last week . He set the tenth fastest time then and was the fastest rookie in a show of potential for the year ahead.
The 2023 Super Formula season begins with a double-header at Fuji on April 7-9. A second double-header, at Suzuka, concludes the season on October 27-29.
2023 Super Formula Calendar
|5||Sportsland SUGO||16-18 June|
|7||Mobility Resort Motegi||18-20 August|