Japanese racing driver Nobuharu Matsushita says he is pushing Honda to allow him to make a return to the FIA Formula 2 Championship, with the aim to reach Formula 1 still high on his agenda.
The Honda Protege driver raced in the series, once known as the GP2 Series, between 2015 and 2017 with ART Grand Prix. The Japanese driver won four races in his three year stint in the series before leaving to race in the Japanese Super Formula Series.
Matsushita also made a brief appearance in Formula 1 as part of a test with Sauber as part of the team’s deal at the time to run Honda engines. He failed to finish in the top three of the F2 championship in 2017, halting him the chance to clinch a superlicence.
But the twenty-five year old told Motorsport.com that he still aims to make it into F1, and that he is pushing for a return to F2 next year.
“Still I’m aiming,” said Matsushita. “Two Japanese doing F2 now, it looks a bit difficult now, they are fighting too. But I never give up.
“We are in negotiations now, I hope I can say as soon as possible I can do formula racing in Europe. But it’s really difficult now because a lot of drivers want to go to F2. 50 percent.”
Honda currently supply Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in F1, with next year seeing Aston Martin Red Bull Racing joining the reign as Honda’s second team.
Matsushita believes that the fact Honda are supplying two F1 teams next year gives him hope that one of the two teams will field a Japanese driver in the near future.
But Matsushita faces competition with two fellow Japanese drivers who currently race in F2. Nirei Fukuzumi, who races in Super Formula as well as with BWT Arden‘s F2 team and Tadasuke Makino, who won a race in Italy this year.
“Honda will supply Red Bull and Toro Rosso next year, which means they have four seats,” Matsushita added. “And I think one seat will be likely for a Japanese driver.
“The trouble is none of us have the superlicence points at the moment, so we need to collect the points. This is the key. If I win the championship here it’s only 20 points, it’s not enough.
“It’s good to do this, better than nothing, but ideally you should stay in F2 if you want to do F1 because the Pirelli tyre and the same circuits.”
The Japanese driver born in Saitama, scored points for the second time in his debut season in Super Formula, ending the championship down in eleventh place with only seven points to his name.
Matsushita feels disappointed that he couldn’t replicate the rookie performances of Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly in Super Formula, who both won races in their time in the series
“Definitely not the best, I’m really disappointed,
“I feel very quick, the car is quick, but we couldn’t do the job. Not happy at all.
“I’m doing a good job to adapt the car, but more about the race: long-distance, pitstops, different strategies, different styles. This is more difficult for us.
“For me it’s the first year. But Gasly and Vandoorne won races in their first year, so I had to win.”