Otsu Set To Fill Mugen Super Formula Vacancy
Hiroki Otsu has emerged as the favourite to land the vacant Super Formula seat with leading Honda squad Team Mugen.
Motorsport.com understands that Nakajima Racing SUPER GT driver Otsu is set to partner the previously-announced Tomoki Nojiri, driving the #15 car that was left unfilled when Honda announced the majority of its 2021 line-up earlier in the month.
The 26-year-old missed out on a Super Formula drive last year when he was passed up in favour of Toshiki Oyu for the vacant Nakajima seat alongside Tadasuke Makino.
However, Otsu belatedly made his race debut in last year’s Fuji Speedway season finale after being called up to replace an unwell Makino at Nakajima, finishing 13th.
Otsu’s anticipated arrival at Mugen marks a departure for a team that, from 2017 until the start of last year, had always fielded one of Red Bull’s junior drivers in its second car.
Current travel restrictions in place amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic make it almost impossible for any of the Austrian energy drink giant’s current proteges to race in Japan, with Juri Vips having had to abandon plans to race in Super Formula last year.
However, Red Bull’s backing of the #15 car is understood to be likely to continue.
Ukyo Sasahara ended up filling in for Vips for the full 2020 campaign, but managed only one points finish in the final round of the season at Fuji Speedway.
Despite losing his drive in Super Formula, Sasahara’s relationship with Mugen will continue in SUPER GT, where he will be partnered by Oyu in 2021. Otsu meanwhile continues for a second season in the series alongside Takuya Izawa at Nakajima.
Besides Mugen, there are just two other seats left to fill on the 2021 Super Formula grid, both of which are at another Honda outfit, B-Max Racing.
2021 Super Formula grid so far: