|Vips in, O'Ward out|
The Japanese Super Formula series started at Suzuka back in April and now returns to the same venue for the seventh and final race.
Lucas Auer, the 25-year-old Austrian, has had some great races this season but a couple of tough rounds have effected his battle to be in the championship top 3. That is still possible thanks to the fact that there are extra points, 13 instead of the usual 10, on offer for the win and the Red Bull Junior would love a maiden victory.
He is joined at Suzuka by Juri Vips who has taken over the Mugen Honda drive from Patricio O’Ward. The 19-year-old Estonian finished 4th in this year's FIA F3 championship and is looking forward to the challenge of the more powerful car, part of the Honda Formula Dream Project.
Auer keen for the Suzuka return
“It's always a pleasure to drive in Suzuka," asserted Auer who professes that he is not really thinking about third in the title chase. “I'm thinking about the race, not the points situation. Mathematical possibilities are not something that I waste too much time on," he chuckled.
“We have the data from the first round this season and have put everything together to come up with some good solutions for the last race. It will be interesting to run the car again at Suzuka and it does put us in a bit more of an even situation with the other teams who otherwise have had more data than us going into each round."
“The way we tackle the race weekend, the philosophy of the car set-up has evolved through the season but technically we are not making any significant changes to the car we ran at Okayama."
“I think that we are in good shape and I love Suzuka along with Sugo, they are my favorite circuits from this season. They are both extremely cool tracks," concluded the B-Max/Motopark Honda driver.
Vips in Japan for the first time
Always up for a challenge, Vips shrugs off the disadvantages of a new car and a new circuit in the final round of the series. “For sure, it will be very difficult in terms of performance but I think I have enough time to adapt to the car. There are two Free Practice sessions and normally I am pretty quick in adapting to things. I'm very happy for the opportunity."
“I spent some good time in the Red Bull sim so that was some sort of preparation, as much as you can do really until you get out in the car."
“I'm now here with the team and they are being fantastically supportive, They all speak English so that side of things is not a problem. It is my first time in Japan and of course the culture is very different and I am very much enjoying the experience."
“It's really great to be racing at Suzuka, probably one of the most difficult tracks in the world, high speed and technical, I am thrilled for the challenge, really excited about it," enthused the Mugen Honda driver.