Honda F1 protege Matsushita pushing for F2 return for 2019

Nobuharu Matsushita says he is pushing Honda to grant him a return to Formula 2 in 2019, as he still harbours ambitions of racing in Formula 1

Honda F1 protege Matsushita pushing for F2 return for 2019

Matsushita raced in the F1 support category for three seasons in 2015-17 with ART Grand Prix, winning four races in that time and placing sixth overall in his third season.

He also made an in-season test outing last year in Hungary with Sauber as part of the Swiss team's abortive deal to run Honda engines.

Having failed to finish in the top three in F2, which was the threshold he required to earn a superlicence, Matsushita switched to Super Formula for 2018 and raced for the Dandelion Racing squad.

"I'm still aiming [for F1]," Matsushita told Autosport.

"[There are] two Japanese [drivers - Tadasuke Makino and Nirei Fukuzumi] doing F2 now, it looks a bit difficult now, they are fighting too. But I never give up.

"We are in negotiations, I hope I can say as soon as possible I can do formula racing in Europe.

"But it's really difficult because a lot of drivers want to go to F2. [There's a] 50% [chance]."

Matsushita said the fact Honda will supply the senior Red Bull F1 team as well as Toro Rosso from 2019 has given him renewed hope that a place in one of the teams will go to a Japanese driver in the future.

He would still face competition for any vacancy from Honda's two other juniors, Fukuzumi - who has combined his F2 commitments with a part-season in Super Formula - and Makino.

"Honda will supply Red Bull and Toro Rosso next year, which means they have four seats," continued Matsushita.

"And I think one seat will be likely for a Japanese driver [in the future].

"The trouble is none of us have the superlicence points at the moment, so we need to collect the points.

"This is the key. If I win the championship here [in Super Formula] it's only 20 points, it's not enough.

"It's good to do this, better than nothing, but ideally you should stay in F2 if you want to do F1 because [you learn] the Pirelli tyre and the same circuits."

Matsushita scored points for only the second time at last weekend's Suzuka Super Formula finale, and ended up 11th in the final standings on seven points.

He said he was disappointed he could not emulate Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly by winning a race as a rookie.

"Definitely not the best, I'm really disappointed," said Matsushita, when asked to assess his season.

"I feel very quick, the car is quick, but we couldn't do the job. Not happy at all.

"I'm doing a good job to adapt the car, but more about the race: long-distance, pitstops, different strategies, different styles. This is more difficult for us.

"For me it's the first year. But Gasly and Vandoorne won races in their first year, so I had to win [a race]."

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