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Gasly takes second straight Super Formula win at Autopolis

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Pierre Gasly continued to strengthen his bid for a Formula 1 race seat by taking his second straight win in the Japanese Super Formula series on Sunday at Autopolis.

Gasly, 21, was placed in Super Formula for 2017 by Red Bull after winning the GP2 title last year, and took his maiden victory in the series at Motegi last month.

Gasly qualified fifth for Sunday’s race at Autopolis, but managed to jump up to second at the start before closing on early leader Tomoki Nojiri on the softer compound tire.

Gasly made his sole pit stop earlier than Nojiri, who by not reacting immediately handed the Frenchman the undercut and the chance to jump ahead.

A series of fast laps on fresher tires saw Gasly move into the lead once Nojiri pitted, with the Japanese racer then tangling with Kamui Kobayashi and dropping down the order.

Despite Formula E racer Felix Rosenqvist being within striking distance towards the end, Gasly was able to hold on and secure his second straight win, thrusting himself into the thick of the title fight.

Gasly sits 5.5 points shy of Hiroaki Ishiura at the top of the standings with three races to go, with Rosenqvist sitting just half a point further back after taking three consecutive podium finishes.

The result is well-timed for Gasly following reports that Carlos Sainz Jr. is poised to move to Renault as part of the deal that will see Toro Rosso take on Honda power units in Formula 1 next year.

Autosport notes in its report regarding the deal that Sainz could move across to Renault as early as the Malaysian Grand Prix should the team cut ties with Jolyon Palmer early, perhaps paving the way for Gasly to make his F1 debut at Sepang.

The Super Formula season continues in two weeks’ time at Sportsland SUGO, with the final double-header round being held at Suzuka on October 22, clashing with the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Gasly takes maiden Super Formula win at Twin Ring Motegi

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Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly strengthened his case for a Formula 1 seat in 2018 by taking his maiden victory in Japan’s Super Formula series on Sunday at Twin Ring Motegi.

Gasly, 21, was placed in Super Formula for 2017 after winning the GP2 Series title last year, and is vying for a seat with Red Bull B-team Toro Rosso in F1 next year.

The Frenchman started fourth at Twin Ring Motegi on Sunday, but was able to gain two places with a long opening stint before pitting and changing tires.

Toyota LMP1 racer Kamui Kobayashi enjoyed a comfortable buffer over the field, only for a slip up in his pit stop to cause him to drop far behind Gasly.

Gasly eased home to clinch his first victory in Super Formula for the Honda-powered Team Mugen, with Kobayashi left to settle for second place.

Formula E driver Felix Rosenqvist picked up his second podium finish of the season, taking third place ahead of Hiroaki Ishiura and Nick Cassidy.

Gasly is the leading Red Bull youngster pushing to step up to F1 in 2018, with Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat currently occupying the seats at Toro Rosso.

Sainz has been linked with a move away for 2018 – relying another team will buy him out of his contract – while Kvyat’s future remains uncertain given his struggles with Toro Rosso.

Gasly could theoretically make his F1 debut this year should Kvyat pick up two more penalty points on his FIA super license between now and the United States Grand Prix in October, which would trigger a race ban.

Gasly’s next racing commitment in Super Formula comes at Autopolis on September 10.

Felix Rosenqvist, Pierre Gasly enjoy first Super Formula tests in Japan

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Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly and Formula E’s Felix Rosenqvist enjoyed their first official running in Japan’s Super Formula series during a fan thanks day at Suzuka on Sunday.

Gasly won last year’s GP2 Series title with Prema Racing, but missed out on a seat in Formula 1 with Toro Rosso after Red Bull elected to retain Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat for 2017.

Unable to return to GP2 as champion, Gasly was moved into Super Formula by Red Bull, claiming a seat with the Honda-backed Team Mugen.

The Frenchman made his first appearance during Sunday’s test, completing 17 laps and finishing 15th overall, 1.4 seconds off the pace set by P1 finisher and Porsche LMP1 driver Andre Lotterer.

Rosenqvist was only confirmed in a seat with Sunoco Team LeMans four days ago, but immediately set to work by finishing one place ahead of Gasly and getting 13 laps under his belt.

“This is a serious beast – this car is absolutely awesome,” Rosenqvist said.

“Turn 1 is just insane; we pull 4.3 G and it’s glued to the track all the way through. The torque is more extreme than I expected and the acceleration is impressive.

“First impressions are very positive, but it will take time to get used to everything and we’ll try and get as much of that as we can out of the way tomorrow.”

During his visit to Suzuka, Gasly also paid tribute to Jules Bianchi, who died in 2015 from head injuries sustained from an accident at the circuit the year before.

Gasly and Rosenqvist will take part in a two-day test at Suzuka on Monday and Tuesday, with the new season beginning at the circuit on April 23.

Felix Rosenqvist adds Super Formula to his extensive driving resume

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Felix Rosenqvist will add Super Formula to his glittering and diverse range of machinery he’s raced in, having been confirmed in the Japanese open-wheel series overnight. He’ll race the No. 7 Toyota for Snoco Team Le Mans.

The Swede will be an intriguing driver to watch as one of six non-Japanese drivers in the series. His Toyota teammate at Snoco is Kazuya Oshima.

The non-Japanese drivers this year are Rosenqvist, the French Red Bull Junior and GP2 Pierre Gasly, New Zealander Nick Cassidy, German multiple-race Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer, English Nissan protege Jann Mardenborough and Indian ex-F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan.

Rosenqvist races full-time with Mahindra Racing in FIA Formula E and within the last year-plus, has raced in DTM, the Blancpain GT Sprint series, ADAC GT Masters, Indy Lights and the Macau Grand Prix, tested an IndyCar and was meant to race a PC class car at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The season opens at Suzuka on April 23.

Antonio Felix da Costa ‘unlikely’ to make Super Formula move

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Andretti Formula E driver Antonio Felix da Costa says a move into the Japanese Super Formula series for 2017 is looking unlikely despite talks being held.

Da Costa balances his Andretti Formula E commitments with a role at BMW, having previously raced for the German marque’s DTM team.

Reports last month linked da Costa with a move into Super Formula for 2017, the series being a favorite for many drivers including McLaren Formula 1 racer Stoffel Vandoorne and endurance star Andre Lotterer.

Despite being subject to approaches from multiple teams and having a strong interest in the series himself, da Costa said that a move for 2017 is now looking unlikely.

“Things started in Macau actually before the final race on Saturday night, a couple of talks started to come up,” da Costa told NBC Sports.

“Basically Honda and Toyota, they found out they were both interested in myself. That kind of projected things a bit which was great, and I ended up winning on Sunday which helped me in that market.

“Again, it’s a really quick car with a lot of good drivers and nice tracks, a very good culture that I would like to try.

“But at the end of the day, it’s just getting in a really quick car and driving fast cars on fast laps. It’s a little bit more unlikely now if I’m honest.”

Were da Costa to race in Super Formula full-time this year, it would have to be with the Toyota-backed Sunoco Team LeMans as all other seats are taken.

“I think they’re exploring their options. They’re keeping me in the loop and we’re staying in contact,” da Costa said.

“But if I’m honest it’s a little bit unlikely.”

Even without Super Formula, da Costa is poised to enjoy a busy 2017, having recently been named as one of BMW’s development drivers for its new GTE car that will race in the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

“We’re going to go testing very soon. That’s an exciting thing, being on a new project and starting from zero,” da Costa said.

“You get to decide where you want the seat, where you want the buttons, where you want the screens.

“And that’s really cool for me at 25 to be with a manufacturer that is known all over the world and involved in something like that.

“So I’ll be busy, that’s for sure.”