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Super Formula champion Nojiri completes maiden F1 outing in 2021 Red Bull

Two-time Super Formula champion Tomoki Nojiri got his first opportunity to drive a Formula 1 car at the Honda Thanks Day this weekend.

Tomoki Nojiri, TEAM MUGEN

Tomoki Nojiri, TEAM MUGEN

Masahide Kamio

Nojiri, who is a factory driver for Honda, got behind the wheel of the 2021 title-winning RB16B at Mobility Resort Motegi on Saturday as part of the Sakura marque’s annual end-of-the-year celebrations.

Nojiri’s maiden run in a grand prix car was described by Honda as a “reward” for the 34-year-old, who won back-to-back titles in Super Formula driving for Team Mugen in 2021-22.

Carrying Red Bull's famous blue-and-black livery this year, he was in contention for the championship until the very end and could have clinched a third consecutive crown had he not missed the Autopolis round in May due to a collapsed run.

 

Nojiri’s F1 run follows comments that he would be interested in taking on a new challenge abroad, but he later clarified that Super Formula and Super GT continue to excite him - and he is not convinced whether any overseas category will offer him the same level of enjoyment.

The RB16B he drove at Motegi took Max Verstappen to his maiden F1 title following a season-long battle with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, which culminated in a dramatic - but also controversial - showdown in Abu Dhabi.

He is scheduled to drive the car again on Sunday as part of the "Red Bull Racing Honda RB16B x TEAM MUGEN SF23 Special collaboration. This will also see Red Bull/Honda junior Ayumu Iwasa, who will team up with Nojiri at Mugen next year, completing several laps of Motegi in the SF23.

Nojiri is again set for a dual campaign in Japan in 2024, coupling a drive with Mugen in SF with another campaign in Super GT with ARTA.

He may have a new team-mate in the latter championship next year, amid question marks over Toshiki Oyu’s future at Honda following a turbulent campaign in both series this year.

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