Naoki Yamamoto in contention for Red Bull F1 role in 2020

by Nicholas Short
Naoki Yamamoto

Red Bull and engine partner Honda have had various talks about handing Naoki Yamamoto a potential Formula 1 role for 2020.

Yamamoto, a two time Super Formula champion and the 2018 Super GT champion, drove for Scuderia Toro Rosso during the Free Practice 1 session in Suzuka, in which he impressed by ending the session only 0.1s off of teammate and more experienced race driver Daniil Kyvat’s time.

“We confirm that we are having conversations about him with Red Bull and Helmut Marko”, said Honda’s F1 managing director Masashi Yamamoto to Autosport.

“We have quite a good offer, but this is not only Honda’s decision or the team’s decision, we have to speak to Naoki himself as well of course. He’s participating in different series as well. It’s still ongoing.

It is unknown whether any potential role for Yamamoto would be with Red Bull Racing or the newly renamed Alpha Tauri team.

The last time a Honda backed driver raced in F1 was Takuma Sato in 2008 for Super Aguri. Over the past 5 years, Honda has brought drivers such as Takuya Izawa, Nobuharu Matsushita, Tadasuke Makino, Nirei Fukuzumi, Teppei Natori, and Yuki Tsunoda into Formula 2 and the new FIA Formula 3 championships.

For 2020, Yuki Tsunoda looks set to race in the FIA Formula 2 championship, making him the brightest Honda prospect for a potential F1 move in the future.

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