October 31, 2017
The race was cancelled due to bad weather.
Gasly finished this season as a vice-champion.
Series name: 2017 Japanese Championship SUPER FORMULA Round 7
Event name: 2017 Japanese SUPER FORMULA Championship Round 7 16th JAF GRAND PRIX SUZUKA
Course: Race1: 5.807km x 19 laps (110.333km) / Race2: 5.807km x 36 laps (209.052km)
Qualifying: October 21 (Sat) / Rain
Race: October 22 (Sun) / Canceled
The 2017 Japanese Championship SUPER FORMULA Round 7 took place at the Suzuka Circuit in Mie Prefecture. TEAM MUGEN joined the race with two cars, #16 Naoki Yamamoto and #15 Pierre Gasly. #15 Pierre Gasly whose driver’s points are merely 0.5 points behind the top welcomed this weekend to win the series championship.
●October 21 (Sat)
#15 Pierre Gasly, (Best time: 00:01:55:582 - 3rd place/ Second best time: 00:01:56:686 - 2nd place)
#16 Naoki Yamamoto, (Best time: 00:01:57:341 – 14th place/ Second best time: 00:01:58:982 – 9th place)
It was raining from the morning on Saturday due to the typhoon No. 21st coming toward the Suzuka circuit. The course conditions were completely wet. Considering the weather condition, The competition committee announced that in case the qualifying could not be carried out, the starting grid order would be determined based on the best and second best time at the free practice.
The free practice began at 9:15 AM, 5 minutes behind the schedule. “Wet conditions” was declared and all the vehicles appeared on the course with rain tires installed when the course opened, and started to go. But the course condition was bad and just 10 minutes after the session began, a red flag was raised. At this point #15 Pierre Gasly was in the 3rd positon and #16 Naoki Yamamoto was in the 16th.
At 9:35 AM the rain started to let up, the session resumed, however, there appeared some vehicles going out of the course right away and again the red flag was raised. The session was prolonged to 10 minutes additionally and the session again restarted at 9:46 AM. But the rain was so heavy that both #15 Pierre Gasly and #16 Naoki Yamamoto could not expect for better time and came back to the pit.
At this point #15 Pierre Gasly maintained 3rd position and #16 Naoki Yamamoto was in 16th with a time of 00:01:57:594. #15 Pierre Gasly recorded a time of 00:01:56:686 as his second best time. Even the qualifying would be canceled, #15 Pierre Gasly could be entailed to the best positions of the starting grid. On the other hand, the second best time of #16 Naoki Yamamoto was 00:02:02, which means his grid positions would be in lower position.
With 13 minutes remaining in the session, #15 Pierre Gasly and #16 Naoki Yamamoto resumed their attacks. Here #16 Naoki Yamamoto recorded a time of 00:01:58:982 and shortened his second best time. Just after the 3rd red flag, 7 minutes left before the session ended, the session resumed and each vehicle tried their time attack, however, the course condition went so worse that none of them could get better record and the session ended with the 4th red flag.
#15 Pierre Gasly (Best time: 8th place / 00:01:55:997, Second best time: 6th place 00:02:00:238)
#16 Naoki Yamamoto (Best time: 14th place / 00:01:57:208, Second best time: 12th place 00:02:04:112)
The 20-minute Q1 session took place at 1:55 PM 5 minutes behind the schedule. The rain was so heavy that the rain flew like rivers on some areas of the course. As soon as the session started, all the vehicles rushed into the course, but before the time attacks, course condition was taken into consideration and a red flag appeared.
At 2:40 PM with 17 minutes remaining in the session, when the rain eased off, the session restarted. With 13 minutes remaining in the session, #15 Pierre Gasly and #16 Naoki Yamamoto resumed their attacks. Here #16 Naoki Yamamoto entered the course at the very front position, but again another red flag prevented the session due to many vehicles coming out of the course.
At 2:50 PM with 14 minutes remaining in the session, the session resumed but it also started to rain so heavily. Then again the third red flag and the session suspended. At this point #15 Pierre Gasly in the 9th position and 16 Naoki Yamamoto in the 14th position.
At 3:00 PM with 8.5 minutes remaining in the session, the session resumed. #15 Pierre Gasly made one lap and recorded a time of 00:01:55:997 putting him in the 6th position and tried to record better time but considering the time left he could go for only two laps.
#15 Pierre Gasly rushed fast enough to be able to record the better time, however, due to a yellow flag, he caught up with #16 Naoki Yamamoto going in front and could not make it, and he lost his balance and went out of the course just before the first corner and the session was made into an end with a red flag.
On the other hand at the second from the last lap #16 Naoki Yamamoto made a space from the car going in front and tried to conduct his time attack, but the car going in front spun and #16 Naoki Yamamoto had no choice but to lose the speed. He then tried his time attack at the final lap, however, #15 Pierre Gasly came out of the course and a red flag was waved and he could not make it.
As the result both #15 Pierre Gasly and #16 Naoki Yamamoto were positioned in 8th and 16th and were entitled to compete in Q2, however, due to the weather condition, the qualifyings were all canceled. The competition committee declared that positions of the starting grid would be determined based on the best time for the race 1 and the second best time for the race 2. The starting grid of #15 Pierre Gasly would be 8th in the race 1 and 6th in the race 2. #16 Naoki Yamamoto 14th in the race 1 and 12th in the race 2. But after that the races were announced by the competition committee to be canceled due to the worsening weather condition.
The 2017 season ended and #15 Pierre Gasly was ranked 2nd place merely 0.5 points behind the top and #16 Naoki Yamamoto in 9th place. TEAM MUGEN was ranked 2nd place in the team ranking. #15 Pierre Gasly also received the rookie of the year award.
■Comments from #16 Naoki Yamamoto
In the past few races I did not feel like I controlled the vehicle well enough to maximize the potential of it. On this weekend condition of the vehicle was so good that I expected to be in the top position, however, due to the weather condition, the race ended as it was. So disappointing.
In the qualifying I anyway tried to get the best lap as much as possible because I had no idea when the red flag appeared. In the last trial I planned to make a space from the car going in front and tried to record the best time. But the car spun and I had no choice to slow down to avoid it.
A yellow flag was raised. That means records at that lap were to be canceled. So then I decided to try the last time attack at the last lap, however, #15 Pierre Gasly went out of the course and the session ended. I could not get a result but at least somehow felt confidence in this race. Quite complicated feeling.
■Comments from #15 Pierre Gasly
I was so disappointed that the race was cancelled. Since condition of the vehicle was quite good and I had a confidence to win this race and become the series champion.
But at both the free session and qualifying I often was bothered by the traffics and could not try time attacks as I wanted. Red flag appeared so many times at this race week, which I have never experienced. I could not get the series championship but this series was so great to me since I could win 2 races and become the rookie of the year.
Hopefully I wanted to get a result at the race so it was regrettable that the race was cancelled. TEAM MUGEN did really great job. I had so much new experience. I believe that I could have grown-up in term of a driver and one human being at this season.
■Comments from team director Nagataka Tezuka
I feel gratitude not only for Pierre taking part in this final race but for all the people who helped his coming. To response to such a cooperation and support, I wanted him to get a pole position and become the series champion, however, could not make it due to the weather condition.
Considering the competition committee’s decision, we had to do our very best from the free session in the morning. At Q1 all of us including drivers also tried our best to get a pole position, but could not make it due to unfortunate accidents at some point. Anyway I felt so regrettable that we could not win the race even under the same conditions with other teams.
Looking back on this year we started this season with 2 cars, welcomed the GP2 champion and faced difficulties in the beginning of the season, and team members also tried to improve cars. Pierre also won the race twice. I would feel really thankful to their commitment, great performance, concentration, and strength. Pierre will go up to the next stage.
I do pray for his luck and all of us have become his big fans now! Yamamoto got 2nd place at the opening race, and contributed to success of Pierre with help of answering to all his even tiny questions. I feel regrettable with his result in the latter half of the race. But he played as a good rival to Pierre to make sense of competition among them.
I really thank for Honda related members, fans, and all the suppliers at the same time all the team members who have been supporting this 2 cars team. I thank you all very much. Also I thank for the visitors who came to this race under such a bad weather condition. And also I thank for all the fans.