It’s been nearly a month since Nick Cassidy (VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S) pulled off a victory with a brilliant pit-in strategy from a P12 start in Round 1 of the Super Formula Series at Suzuka.
Round 2 at Autopolis takes place this weekend and history shows it can be full of drama. Last season, the race had to be cancelled due to weather, but this season, the forecast is looking much brighter.
With a brand new SF19 car this season, the Autopolis round is even more difficult to call than at Suzuka. The teams only have data with the new car from Suzuka and Fuji Speedway where pre-season tests were held.
The SF14 and SF19 chassis do have similarities, but the SF19 features even more aerodynamic parts, which translates to more down-force. And because the SF19 is equipped with a halo, that extra weight has to be accounted for where considering overall balance of the car.
The front tyres are also wider. The Autopolis circuit is also known for being tough on tyre wear. Considering that the SF19 hasn’t ran at Autopolis before, setup will be paramount.
Will it be TCS NAKAJIMA RACING who showed their speed at Suzuka? Or maybe the VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S tandem, who didn’t appear in top form at Suzuka? KONDO RACING, the team champion from 2018, ITOCHU ENEX TEAM IMPUL, or JMS P.MU/CERUMO・INGING–which Autopolis is their home circuit–are all teams of high interest, too.
Yet another reason why the race at Auotpolis is so hard to call is because of all the rookie drivers this season. Those Japanese who drove in F3 have raced at Autopolis before, but for several of the drivers, they have never competed at the circuit.
So what type of strategies the team bring in for this race could play a huge role in the final outcome on Sunday. Can Cassidy out strategise his fellow competitors?