Honda is hiring for Super Formula Driver Reshuffle in 2022

Defending champion Tomoki Nojiri will almost certainly stay aboard Mugen’s # 16 car after a groundbreaking 2021 season, but it appears Hiroki Otsu will not be staying by his side in the Red Bull painted # 15 car.

There were doubts whether the energy drink giant will continue to support the number 15 car due to ongoing Japan travel restrictions that are likely to deter a member of the Red Bull Junior team from being a third part of the Mugen roster consecutive season.

As the number 15 car is now waiting for a continuation, the favorite for the place is current Nakajima Racing driver Toshiki Oyu, who drives for Mugen in the SUPER GT.

Otsu, meanwhile, appears to be heading in the opposite direction to join three-time champion Naoki Yamamoto at Nakajima Racing, where he made his debut at last year’s Fuji Speedway season finale as a one-time replacement for an uncomfortable Tadasuke Makino.

The biggest surprise, however, is that Dandelion rider Nirei Fukuzumi will break new ground and, alongside Makino, will open a valuable seat on the title-winning team of 2020.

That’s because Fukuzumi is rumored to be making a shock move to the one-car stable Drago Corse, which has not scored points in the past two seasons with Tatiana Calderon and the Colombian’s occasional substitute Koudai Tsukakoshi.

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The strongest candidate to replace Fukuzumi appears to be Ukyo Sasahara, who stood in for Makino at Dandelion in the first two rounds of 2021, but it’s not impossible that the seat could go to Oyu if the Mugen bond doesn’t takes place.

Nobuharu Matsushita meanwhile is likely to stay with B-Max Racing for 2022 as part of a potential two-car line-up.

After driving just one car in 2021, the team could drive two cars again next year if they can find a driver with enough budget – and it’s believed to be preparing to get both of their cars in the Suzuka rookie test on Jan. to drive until December 9th.

Toyota plans depend on Nakajima, Hirakawa will likely stay

What happens at the Toyota stable in 2022 will most likely depend on Kazuki Nakajima returning for a 12th season with the TOM’S roster.

The two-time super formula champion was only able to contest two races this year due to Japan’s travel restrictions and commitments in the Toyota FIA World Endurance Championship, but it was confirmed earlier this month that he will be back from his WEC drive with Ryo in 2022. Hirakawa is to replace him.

Nakajima said it was “the plan” for him to continue driving in the Super Formula off-track alongside a new role in the Toyota WEC, but insisted that nothing had been decided and did not rule out his top line End career.

Should the 36-year-old stay for another season, that likely won’t mean a change in the Toyota roster, as rookie Ritomo Miyata will definitely stay with TOM’S for a second full season in 2021.

If Nakajima steps down, however, it would open the door for current Kondo racing man Sacha Fenestraz to take his place, with Giuliano Alesi then potentially stepping in to fill the void in Kondo.

Alesi has already contested five Super Formula races this year instead of Nakajima at TOM’s and won at Autopolis, but admitted to Motorsport.com that his failure to claim the Super Formula Lights title last month means he may Must stay in the lower category for a period of the second year.

With Hirakawa set to dovetail his Toyota WEC drive with another season of Super Formula for Impul, and with Kamui Kobayashi likely to do the same at KCMG, the other chances for Alesi of completing Super Formula Lights appear slim if Nakajima fully returns to TOMs -Time.

Toyota is slated to be the first manufacturer to officially announce its 2022 plans in early December, but the rookie test roster will tacitly confirm the lineup of most teams on either side of the engine divide.

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