Fukuzumi admits Makino win weighed 'heavy on my mind'

Nirei Fukuzumi admits seeing fellow Honda protege Tadasuke Makino take a first Formula 2 victory weighed ‘heavy on his mind’ and that he needs to regain his confidence. 

Fukuzumi admits Makino win weighed 'heavy on my mind'

Fukuzumi, who finished third in the GP3 Series with ART Grand Prix last year, has had a nightmare debut season in F2.

He lies 17th in the standings with a best finish of sixth, as his Arden International team have struggled for pace for most of the year. His teammate Maxi Gunther is 13th in the standings.

After starting on the medium tyre compared to the leaders on the supersofts, Makino drove a brilliant opening stint in Saturday's feature race to take the lead from 14th on the grid in just five laps.

He held off Russian Time teammate Artem Markelov after switching to the supersoft with three laps to go. 

“Of course last night and yesterday was very hard, it was very heavy on my mind,” said Fukuzumi after Makino’s win. 

“I try not to care about Tada [Makino], as a driver I try to do the maximum which is my job every race weekend. 

“I have to get back my confidence for the future. I don’t know [how] at the moment. I have to find the enjoyment again.”

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Both Arden drivers struggled with tyre degradation at Monza - Gunther was 12th and Fukuzumi was 14th in the feature race, while Fukuzumi took 13th and Gunther 16th in race two. 

“My start today [in Sunday’s sprint race] was very poor, and after we didn’t have the pace, I was suffering with tyre degradation,” added Fukuzumi, who is dovetailing his F2 commitments with a Super Formula drive.

“We had a lot of oversteer and I was not able to do anything this weekend. We know what’s happening with the car and what is the issue with the degradation, so we need to try and get better and improve to fix this problem.”

Honda has made no secret of the fact that it wants a Japanese driver in one of its F1 cars, and Red Bull athlete Fukuzumi would have been high on the shortlist for a seat at Toro Rosso for 2019 if his season in F2 had gone to plan.

But the 21-year-old won’t have enough points for a superlicense, although he has enough for free practice outings.

Makino is less experienced in Europe than Fukuzumi, who has had an extra season on the continent, having spent two years in GP3 in 2016-17 on Pirelli tyres versus Makino's sole European F3 campaign last year on Hankooks.

Nirei Fukuzumi, BWT Arden

Nirei Fukuzumi, BWT Arden

Photo by: FIA Formula 2

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