Super Formula: 2017 Season Review

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via SuperFormula.net

A dramatic end to the season failed to come to fruition following the cancellation of the double-headed season finale at Suzuka, as six drivers were still in contention of winning the drivers’ championship.

Regardless, racing fans were treated to some close and competitive races, with the drivers’ title decided by only half a point. Let’s take a look at how the companionship played out for major players of the season.

Hiroaki Ishiura – Drivers’ Champion, 1 Win

Thanks to the cancellation of the season finale, Hiroaki Ishiura secured his second drivers’ championship following his original triumph in 2015 by half a point to Pierre Gasly.

Ishiura was a deserving champion, being the only driver to have finished every race in the points, something which made more impressive by the fact that he sixteenth at Motegi en route to a fourth-place finish.

In hindsight, the retirement of Ishiura’s team-mate Yuji Kunimoto at Fuji proved to be a difference in the final standings.

Ishiura will surely aim to become the first driver to retain the Super Formula title since Tsugio Matsuda in 2008 under the Formula Nippon banner.

Pierre Gasly – Runner Up, 2 Wins

It’s very hard not to sympathise with Gasly after coming so close to the title, especially after he skipped the United States Grand prix with Toro Rosso just to challenge at the season finale which never took place.

After failing to score in the opening two races, the Red Bull junior recorded back-to-back victories at Motegi and Autopolis and had he managed to beat Yuhi Sekiguchi to the finish line at Sportsland SUGO, the Frenchman would be champion.

Despite this, Gasly should be proud of what his achieved in Super Formula and carry he new-found momentum into his developing Formula One career.

Felix Rosenqvist – 3rd Place, Best Finish 2nd

Felix Rosenqvist made a late season charge for the title despite not winning a race in Super Formula.

It was obvious that his breakthrough victory at the Berlin ePrix for Mahindra in Formula E gave the Swede another level of confidence, something demonstrated by a hat-trick of podiums finishes in the season’s midpoint.

Should Rosenqvist decide that he fancies another crack at the Super Formula title next year, he’ll be amongst favourites to win the crown.    

Yuhi Sekiguchi – 4th Place, 2 Wins

On the surface of the drivers’ standings, Yuhi Sekiguchi’s inconsistency across the year cost him the title did this due to his three non-points finishes, something that proves costly in such a highly competitive championship.

Aged 29, it is easy to forget that this year was only his second season in Super Formula and if he can string together a steadier season, then 2018 could be Sekiguchi’s year.

The top 4 drivers in the championship disappointedly taking questions in the post-Suzuka-cancellation press conference. Via @SUPER_FORMULA

Kazuki Nakajima – 5th Place, 1 Win

The start of the 2017 campaign couldn’t have gone any better for Nakajima, winning the opening race at Suzuka from pole position and left with the maximum eleven points.

As the season progressed though, the former Williams driver slowly began to slide down the standings and his form evaporated into thin air, although a podium finish at Sportsland SUGO kept him in touch of Ishiura’s lead.

With Toyota confirming their place on the WEC grid for 2018, Nakajima will be motivated to make the year a memorable one and would like the idea of winning his third Super Formula title alongside a potentially historic victory at Le Mans.

André Lotterer – 6th Place, 1 Win

Following a good start to the season which saw Lotterer score in the first five races, including a win in the first race at Okayama, the German failed to score in the following two races.

Heading into the season finale, Lotterer needed to win the first race of the double header to stay within touch of the championship lead and was halfway there after scoring a point for securing pole position.

This effort turned out to be in vain, with his attention now on the forthcoming Formula E season opening at Hong Kong for Techeetah and no guarantee that he’ll return to Super Formula next year.

Honourable Mentions

Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi’s qualifying form and inconsistency prevented the popular driver with staying touch of the championship leaders and will look to right this wrong next year.

Yuji Kunimoto

The defending champion’s eighth place finish this year isn’t a fair reflection of the poor luck he has had to endure. Kunimoto dominated the race weekend at Fuji and was on course to collect a deserving victory but was robbed when his car suffered suspension failure. If he has more luck in 2018, Kunimoto will surely be amongst the title challengers.

Nick Cassidy

Following two full seasons in the FIA Formula Three European Championship, the Kiwi showed early signs of promise following an unexpected podium finish at the first of two races held at Okayama. Unfortunately, this was only one of two points finishes across the season and ended up in a disappointing tenth place in the final standings. However, Cassidy managed to win the Super GT Championship for Lexus alongside Ryo Hirakawa, proving his has what it takes to be successful in the land of the rising sun.  

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