Toro Rosso hand Yamamoto F1 debut for Suzuka practice

Ruben Hill
October 9, 2019

Naoki Yamamoto will make his Formula 1 track debut this weekend at the Suzuka International Racing Course as he will take over the Scuderia Toro Rosso seat of Pierre Gasly for the opening free practice session. Yamamoto is going to complete the FP1 session for Toro Rosso to gain data.

Toro Rosso Team Principal, Franz Tost, added: "We are sure that Naoki-san will enjoy the laps in FP1 on one of the greatest race tracks in the world".

Yamamoto has driven Toro Rosso's simulator and spent time with the team at European races earlier in 2019 to get to know its engineering staff.

The Honda-backed driver is fighting for a second Super Formula title in a row and will return to Suzuka at the end of October for the final round of Japan's premier single-seater series.

Yamamoto said his FP1 outing would fulfill a childhood "dream" and that "to get this chance at Suzuka, a very important circuit for all Japanese racing drivers, in front of such a big crowd of Japanese fans, will make the experience even more special".

Franz Tost, the Team Principal of Toro Rosso, is pleased to have a Japanese driver on board for the opening session of the weekend, and he feels Yamamoto is a talented driver who he can not wait to see behind the wheel of the STR14.

He has also worked in the Red Bull simulator to get a feel for the current formula one experience.

Yamamoto won the Super Formula and SuperGT championships last season, becoming the first driver to win both titles in the same year since 2004. But also his diversity in his driving: Champion in Super Formula, champion in Super GT.

In Super GT, Yamamoto has compiled four victories, 21 podiums, and a whopping 61 top-ten finishes in 78 career starts.

The Honda-backed driver is on course for a third Super Formula title this year and will become the first Japanese to take part in an F1 session since Kamui Kobayashi's retirement from the 2014 Abu Dhabi GP, when he takes the controls of Pierre Gasly's vehicle at Suzuka.

Katsuhide Moriyama, the head of brand and communication at Honda, claimed they hope, Naoki makes the most out of the opportunity and gets to learn from it.

Now leading the super Formula season is his teammate, former Formula 1 championship victor, Jenson Button.

Honda is hoping Yamamoto's run will improve him as a driver and serve as inspiration to young Japanese drivers of the future, as there hasn't been a representative from Japan on the grid since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014. Projections as of Monday could see Suzuka city get hit on Saturday, how it would impact Friday or Sunday running is yet to be determined.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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