Felix Rosenqvist will combine his FIA Formula E Championship commitments with an attack on Japan’s Super Formula series in 2017, having agreed a deal to race for Team LeMans in Asia’s top single-seater category.
Rosenqvist joins the Super Formula field at an exciting time for the Japanese championship, which has enjoyed increasing international attention in recent years thanks in part to an appealing set of high-performance technical regulations.
With a combination of 550-bhp turbo engines, spec slick tyres and highly sophisticated aerodynamics, the Super Formula SF14 is the fastest car in the world – barring Formula 1 machinery – around a racing track, subjecting drivers to extreme cornering forces in the process.
25-year-old Rosenqvist will join experienced Super Formula racer Kazuya Oshima (JPN, 29) in a two-car assault from Team LeMans, becoming the first Swede to enter Japan’s leading single-seater championship since Björn Wirdheim contested the 2006-2007 seasons.
”I’m really thrilled to be setting out on this adventure in Japan with Team LeMans,” says Felix Rosenqvist. ”I’m absolutely convinced that a dual programme is the best set-up for me in 2017, but it’s been crucially important to ensure it doesn’t compromise my Formula E activities. Super Formula is the ideal complement, with no calendar clashes and a lot of high-quality running in one of the quickest cars on the planet. It’s exactly what I was looking for and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel at the first test!”
The agreement marks a return to Asian full-season competition for Rosenqvist, who started out his single-seater career in the continent’s Formula Renault series in 2007, winning the Formula Asia 2.0 title in 2008. The Far East has treated Rosenqvist well ever since, with back-to-back victories at the Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix among his most notable achievements.
The 2017 Super Formula season boosts a 20-car grid, and will pitch Rosenqvist against stiff international competition such as 2011 champion and triple 24 Hours of Le Mans winner André Lotterer (GER), ex-Formula 3 team-mate Nick Cassidy (NZL) and reigning GP2 Series champion Pierre Gasly (FRA).
Also set to compete are former F1 drivers Kazuki Nakajima (JPN), Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) and Narain Karthikeyan (IND), as well as defending champion Yuji Kunimoto (JPN).
Rosenqvist will race the #7 Team LeMans entry, joining an impressive list of drivers to have flown the flag for the Toyota-powered outfit. Founded in 1969, its long history in Japanese motor racing has seen the team cross paths with some of the great names of the sport, including Michael and Ralf Schumacher (GER) – running the latter to the 1996 Formula Nippon title.
The squad finished tenth in the 2016 Super Formula teams’ classification, fielding Kobayashi and Karthikeyan.
“Team LeMans has participated in Super Formula and its preceding incarnations for over forty years,” says team manager Mr. Donuma Hiroyoshi. ”During that time, we have forged a rich history of working with some highly talented foreign drivers. This year, we are excited to add to that history with Felix Rosenqvist, who comes strongly regarded and, I’m sure, will quickly become a favourite among the Japanese fans. Nobody can question the strength and skill of Felix. As a top driver, he has a very bright future, and we will do everything we can to help him maximize his potential and achieve the best possible results.”
Rosenqvist is currently on site with his new team, based in Japan’s Shizuoka prefecture, as preparations commence ahead of the opening pre-season test at Suzuka on March 6-7.
The 2017 Super Formula campaign comprises seven championship rounds, mixing one- and two-race weekend formats. The season begins (April 22-23) and concludes (October 21-22) at Suzuka, with Okayama International Circuit, Fuji Speedway, Twin Ring Motegi, Autopolis and Sportsland Sugo making up the other tracks on the agenda.
2017 SUPER FORMULA CALENDAR
Rd. 1 | April 22-23
Rd. 2 | May 27-28
Rd. 3 | July 8-9
Twin Ring Motegi
Rd. 4 | August 19-20
Rd. 5 | September 9-10
Rd. 6 | September 23-24
Rd. 7 | October 21-22
Super Formula SF14 – technical specifications
|Supply||Dallara Automobili S.p.A (Italy)|
|Weight||660 kg minimum (driver on-board)|
|Gearbox||Ricardo: 6 forward speed, paddle shift|
|Brakes||Brembo calipers, Brembo carbon disc|
|Supply||Toyota and Honda|
|Type||Inline-four, direct injection, turbo|
|Weight||85 kg minimum|
|Output||405kw (550 bhp) and over|
|Supply||Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd.|