It was announced today that Ayumu Iwasa would be racing in Japan’s Super Formula single-seater championship in 2024 with Team Mugen, bringing to a close his two-year career in the FIA Formula 2 Championship.
Red Bull junior Iwasa’s impending return to Japan comes after four seasons in Europe that have seen him rise through the ranks at a pace comparable to the progression of fellow Japanese driver and Red Bull stable mate Yuki Tsunoda, who currently races in F1 for AlphaTauri.
Iwasa is, like Tsunoda, a member of the Honda Formula Dream Project, which aims to support homegrown talent in pursuing professional racing careers both domestically and internationally.
The 22-year-old made one-round Japanese F4 cameos in 2017 and 2018 alongside a round in Asian Formula Renault. He earned the backing of Honda after winning the Suzuka Racing School’s 2019 single-seater series, which propelled him to Europe and a full-time campaign in French F4 in 2020.
He won that series and duly earned the backing of the Red Bull Junior Team for 2021 as he stepped up to international competition, finishing eighth that year in F3 Asia and 12th in FIA F3 with one win.
He has raced in F2 for DAMS for the last two seasons, impressing with fifth overall and two Feature Race wins last year before his current campaign, which sees him sit in third on 152 points with three victories ahead of the final round.
Rumours have long swirled that the Japanese driver would be returning to his home country and racing in Super Formula for the 2024 season, following the path taken by fellow Red Bull junior and 2022 F2 third-place finisher Liam Lawson, whom he replaces at Mugen.
“I was told by Honda and Red Bull about next season. I was quite happy to go to Super Formula,” Iwasa told InsideF2 in a press conference earlier today when asked about the deal.
“The car is faster. I heard some drivers say the car is lighter and more downforce, so it’s…closer to F1 in terms of the driving. I’m really interested about it.”
Iwasa has not yet tested Super Formula machinery, nor has he had the chance to speak with Lawson about it, he said earlier in the press conference. He will also be new to three of the five venues on the series’ 2024 calendar: Autopolis, Sportsland Sugo and Fuji Speedway.
“First, I need to learn about the car and the tyre in Japan quite a lot. Even if I’m a Japanese driver, still I don’t know most of the tracks in Super Formula currently.
“I came to Europe after I graduated karting. First, I need to learn a lot of things, and then I will try to do my best throughout the season.”
Iwasa will face stiff intra-team competition at Mugen in the form of Tomoki Nojiri, who claimed the 2021 and 2022 drivers’ titles in Super Formula before finishing third in 2023, half a point behind Lawson. Nojiri had, however, missed this year’s Autopolis round because of illness.
Credit: Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool