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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Žišková

F1 drivers in Super Formula

Michael Schumacher, Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne ... all these drivers have its fair share in Super Formula.

First of all, SF is considered the fastest championship outside of Formula 1.

Going by the full name „Super Formula “ ( in Japanese スーパーフォーミュラ; Sūpāfōmyura), it is often referred to as the top level of single-seater racing in Japan as well as one of the most exciting roads to Formula 1.

It offers young talented drivers to experience an opportunity of having some good battles on the track meanwhile learning valuable skills, which can be used later in their racing careers.

1. Michael Schumacher

Even Michael Schumacher himself participated in one and also the only race in Super Formula in 1991. He ended up being 2nd in qualification, leaving everyone in awe. About a month later, he was back in Europe, where he had his F1 debut at the Belgian GP.

2. Ralf Schumacher

The younger Schumacher had, on the other side, a way more interesting career in Super Formula. Back in 1996, only 20-year old German came to Japan, where he was racing for team Le Mans (later X-JAPAN Le Mans). In the first race of the season, he managed to finish on P3, but in the next race, he took the victory. One of his three victories that year, to be precise. Overall, he had points from 6 races out of 10. Altogether, he gained 40 points, which oficially made Ralf Schumacher the champion.

3. Pierre Gasly

Racing in Japan definitely isn't unknown for Gasly. Not because he already raced there as an F1 driver, but we can say that his time in Super Formula gave him a good career background for his next steps into F1. Joining the team Mugen in 2017, he scored points in 5 races out of 7 and won 2 times. Sadly, the Frenchman missed his SF championship by only half a point!

“When I joined Super Formula, so many people started to support me, including Red Bull... There was a great atmosphere, and it was the first time I had such support. I have really good memories of Japan.” – Pierre Gasly

Very similar to Michael Schumacher, Pierre Gasly also had his debut in Formula 1 in the same year in which he took a part in SF.

4. Kamui Kobayashi

A Japanese racing driver who competed in many racing series, e.g.: Formula 1, Formula E, the GP2 series, or even Super Formula. When he lost his seat in F1, he moved back to Japan, making his SF debut in 2015 . Until 2016, Kobayashi was racing for team Le Mans. Then in 2017, he moved to another team: KCMG (later/now Carrozzeria Team KCMG). The only year he didn't compete in SF was 2021. But don't worry, he came back this year. He is still an active racing driver and as I mentioned before, he currently competes in Super Formula (but not only there!).

5. André Lotterer

Even though Lotterer was seen on the track only once in Formula 1, he showed his experience in different racing series. In 2014, he joined F1 team Caterham at Belgian GP for one race, replacing Kamui Kobayashi. He qualified P21 but unfortunately, his race lasted only 1 lap before a mechanical failure forced him to retire the car.

However, did you know he raced in Super Formula series for over 10 years? In this time period, he drove for 4 different teams, but only with team Petronas Team TOM'S, he has finally won the championship in 2011. Six years later, he moved to Formula E, but needless to say, his career in SF was somewhat a successful one!

6. Stoffel Vandoorne

The last driver on my list, a holder of the latest Formula E championship, Stoffel Vandoorne, had lived in Japan for quite some time too. He joined team DoCoMo Dandelion Racing in 2016, taking 2 victories and one pole position. His year in SF ended with him standing 4th in the championship.

If we connect the right dots, three drivers from this list were on the same grid in 2016 Super Formula season. Namely it is Stoffel Vandoorne, André Lotterer, and Kamui Kobayashi.



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