2023 PREVIEW - super formula lights

While the battle for the championship title has already been ignited in Super Formula, its junior series Super Formula Lights will kick off their new season at Autopolis on the weekend of May 19-21. This year, there are also three international drivers on the grid. In this preview I will introduce you to all the teams and their drivers. You will also get an overview of the race calendar, the weekend format and scoring system, as well as a small report of pre-season testing. At the end you will find my predictions for the drivers and team championships.


Twelve drivers from four different teams have been entered for the first weekend. With Igor Fraga, Enzo Trulli and David Vidales, three international drivers are competing in the "Japanese Formula 2" this year. Last season, Kazuto Kotaka, who has made the step up to Super Formula, managed to win the title with TOM'S. With Iori Kimura, Hibiki Taira and Seita Nonaka there are three drivers on the grid who already celebrated victories in the series last year.



Hibiki Taira, Seita Nonaka, Yuga Furutani, Enzo Trulli


The defending champions in the drivers' and teams' championships will be competing with four drivers this year. Hibiki Taira is contesting his third season in the championship. So far, he has already won two races and stood on the podium a further seven times. The driver from Okinawa, Japan won the Japanese F4 Championship in 2020 dominantly with ten victories from twelve races. Last year he finished fifth in Super Formula Lights. Seita Nonaka has been his teammate for the past two years, winning the 2021 Japanese F4 Championship. The racer from Saitama, Japan finished fourth in the SF Lights Championship last year, winning one race at Fuji Speedway and finishing on the podium another eight times. This will also be Yuga Furutani's second year in the championship. Last season he made the podium five times and finished sixth in the final standings. He won the Formula Regional Japan title in 2021 with four wins, three pole positions, seven fastest laps and a total of ten podiums. The team is completed by Enzo Trulli. The Italian spent the last few years in FIA Formula 4 and Euroformula Open. With the Drivex and Carlin teams, he made the podium four times in the 2022 season of EF Open. The European championship features the same Dallara chassis as Super Formula Lights. In 2021, he won the F4 UAE Championship on his car racing debut with four wins and a total of 13 podiums.


Toda Racing

Syun Koide


After last year's runner-up Kakunoshin Ohta made the move up to Super Formula for this season, Toda Racing will enter Syun Koide this year. The Honda Junior won the Japanese F4 Championship last year with nine wins and three more podiums in 14 races held.


B-Max Racing Team

Iori Kimura, David Vidales, Igor Fraga, Nobuhiro Imada, "Dragon", Takashi Hata


The B-Max Racing team starts the new season with six cars. "Dragon", Takashi Hata and Nobuhiro Imada are the only three starters in the Masters Class this year. This leaves only three young drivers in the team who want to fight for the championship title. Iori Kimura enters his second SF Lights season. The Russian-Japanese racer from Tokyo finished last season in third place overall with three race wins and six other podium finishes. In 2021, he also finished third in Japanese F4, where he won four races. David Vidales will compete in Super Formula Lights for the first time next weekend. In recent years, the Spaniard has competed mainly in FIA Formula 3 and Formula Regional EU by Alpine. In both racing series he managed to win one race each. At his car racing debut in the Formula Renault Eurocup 2020 in Imola he immediately won both races. The team is completed this year by Igor Fraga. The Brazilian, born in Kanazawa, Japan, attracted attention both on the race track and in e-sports. In the race car, he won the Fórmula 3 Brasil - Academy Class in 2017 and was runner-up in the 2017/18 F4 NACAM. After a year in the USF 2000 Championship, he came to Europe in 2019 and finished third in Formula Regional Europe. He was last seen on the track as a driver in 2020 in New Zealand, where he won the Toyota Racing Series ahead of drivers like Liam Lawson, Yuki Tsunoda or Franco Colapinto.



Yuui Tsutsumi


The Rn-sports team is entering Yuui Tsutsumi on the grid this year. The 26-year-old from Yokohama, Japan has been racing mainly in the Japanese Super GT Series in recent years, where he won one GT 300 class race in both 2021 and 2022. He contested his last races in single seater racing in 2018 in Japanese Formula 4.


As in the previous year, there will be 18 races spread over six weekends. Most of the rounds will be held in the Super Formula support program.


Round 1: Autopolis, Hita (19-21 May)


Round 2: Sportsland SUGO, Murata (16-18 June)


Round 3: Suzuka International Circuit, Suzuka (30 June - 2 July)


Round 4: Fuji Speedway, Oyama (14-16 July)


Round 5: Okayama International Circuit, Mimasaka (8-10 September)


Round 6: Mobility Resort Motegi, Motegi (10-12 November)


Three races are held on each race weekend. Points are awarded for the best six from each race. Ten points are awarded for a win, seven points for second place, and five points for third place. From fourth to sixth place there are three, two and one points. In addition, there is one extra point each for the fastest lap and pole position. 


At the end of the season, the four worst results of each driver in the 18 races are dropped from the overall standings.


The official preseason Super Formula Lights test sessions were held over two days in early March. In the first of three practice sessions at Suzuka, Seita Nonaka was fastest with a time of 1m51.884s, followed by Taira and Kimura. In the second session, Hibiki Taira set the fastest time of the entire day with a lap time of 1m51.852s. Kimura and Trulli lined up in second and third place. To close the test, David Vidales was best with a 1m51.939s to take the top spot ahead of Koide and Taira.


Combined Results:

P1: Hibiki Taira - TOM'S / 1m51.852s

P2: Seita Nonaka - TOM'S / + 0.032s

P3: David Vidales - B-Max / + 0.087s

P4: Iori Kimura - B-Max / + 0.216s

P5: Syun Koide - Toda / + 0.220s

P6: Enzo Trulli - TOM'S / + 0.343s

P7: Yuga Furutani - TOM'S / + 0.580s

P8: Igor Fraga - B-Max / + 0.787s

P9: Togo Suganami - B-Max / + 1.297s

P10: Yuui Tsutsumi - Rn-sports / + 1.368s


As I already did with some other racing series, I dare to make a little prediction for this years SF Lights championships as well.


Drivers Championship Prediction


P1: Seita Nonaka

P2: Iori Kimura 

P3: David Vidales

P4: Enzo Trulli

P5: Igor Fraga


The driver line-up this year forms an extremely interesting starting position in the fight for the title. Five or even more drivers will have the championship title as their goal. Eight drivers can compete for victories and podium places. For me, this includes Seita Nonaka, Iori Kimura, David Vidales, Hibiki Taira, Enzo Trulli, Igor Fraga, Syun Koide and Yuga Furutani. For me, the experienced Nonaka, Kimura and Taira are among the biggest favorites, but the three international drivers in particular will make it uncomfortable for them all season long. Alle drei sind sehr talentierte Rennfahrer und werden nach einer Angewöhnungsphase definitiv um Rennsiege mitfahren.


Teams Championship Prediction



P2: B-Max Racing Team

P3: Toda Racing


The battle for the team championship title this year will be between TOM'S and B-Max. In my opinion, the composition of the drivers at TOM'S is a little stronger, which means that they will narrowly prevail in the end and win the overall standings once again.

written by Claudio Graf  / 14th May, 2023