Former F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan will race for Team Impul Hoshino Racing in the 2014 season of the Super Formula Japan, which according to the Indian may prove to be the fastest series in the world.
Last year, Karthikeyan had participated in the Auto GP World series, where he scored five wins and four pole positions during the course of the season.
Team Impul Hoshino had finished third in the Super Formula title standings last year. Karthikeyan will have Brazilian JoPaulo de Oliveira as his teammate.
“I am really excited to confirm that I am driving in the Super Formula series this season with Team Impul. With a new chassis and turbocharged powertrains this year, along with a really strong grid of drivers, means it is going to be a fast and intensely competitive campaign,” said Karthikeyan.
Super Formula Japan, erstwhile known as Formula Nippon has been running since 1973, with its driver roster including Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine, Pedro De La Rosa and Ralf Schumacher.
The series has switched to a new Dallara SF14 chassis this year, which is based on the Italian manufacturer’s GP2 chassis. The erstwhile V8s will be replaced by two-litre, 550 bhp turbocharged engines from the stables of Honda and Toyota — drawing parallels with Formula 1 which has switched from naturally-aspirated V8s to 1.6-litre turbos this year.
The official tyre supplier is Bridgestone, and the lap time of the new car is just 3-4 seconds slower compared to 2013-spec F1 cars.
“With the new 2014 F1 cars being over five seconds slower compared to last year, I think Super Formula may end up being the fastest series in the world,” explained Karthikeyan.
“Of course F1 teams will improve massively during the course of the season, but it is amazing that a spec-series can be so close to the pinnacle,” he further elaborated.
Furthermore, the car will also be equipped with a 50 bhp ‘push-to-pass’ system, along with Drag Reduction System (DRS) to improve overtaking, as applied in Formula 1.
The new-look Super Formula has attracted an exceptionally strong grid of drivers for the 2014 season, including former F1 pilots Vitantonio Liuzzi, Takuma Sato and Kazuki Nakajma alongside Karthikeyan.
24 hour Le Mans winners and WEC World Champions AndrLotterer and LoDuval will also line up on the grid, along with former Force India F1 test driver James Rossiter. Briton Richard Bradley and JoPaulo de Oliveira.
“It is an amazing line-up of drivers and the best part about a spec-series like this is the fact that everyone has the same equipment and the same opportunity to win — something which I relished in Auto GP last year, having gone through two nightmarish years with HRT F1 prior to that,” he said.
“It will be challenging to drive at unknown circuits, as I haven’t competed at venues other than Suzuka. I tested the car recently at Fuji Speedway and it feels great — so I can’t wait for the season to kick off,” he added.
The seven-round calendar is set to kick-off at the Suzuka Circuit on April 13.