Alesi set for double Japan programme with Toyota
Giuliano Alesi, the son of ex-Formula 1 racer Jean, will contest the Super Formula Lights series this year with the Toyota-affiliated TOM’S squad.
The 21-year-old will take on a double programme in Japan as he is also set to race in SUPER GT’s GT300 ranks with Toyota Team Thailand alongside Sean Walkinshaw.
Alesi is half-Japanese – his mother is the singer and actress Kumiko Goto – allowing him to negotiate Japan’s COVID-19 travel restrictions that forced some international drivers to abandon plans to race in Super Formula or SUPER GT last year.
“Giuliano leaves on Monday [to Japan],” Alesi Sr told Motorsport.com. “There’s no problem [with travel] because he has a Japanese passport. That’s quite easy.
“He has the first test at Fuji Speedway in February with the GT car, so that will be his first welcome in Japan.
“I’m so proud that TOM’S have accepted Giuliano and have welcomed him in their family. I hope my son can bring the results and start a good story with them.”
Alesi makes the switch to Japanese racing after a difficult two-year stint in F2 that yielded a best finish of sixth place, and 15th in the championship in 2019.
He was then handed his first test in a Formula 1 car by Ferrari at Fiorano on Monday, marking his farewell from the Italian manufacturer’s young driver scheme.
Giuliano Alesi, Ferrari SF71H
Photo by: Ferrari
TOM’S revealed its 2021 Super Formula line-up last week, with SF Lights champion Ritomo Miyata stepping up to replace Formula E-bound Nick Cassidy alongside Kazuki Nakajima.
A strong performance in SF Lights - previously known as All-Japan Formula 3 - would likely put Alesi in a good position to join Toyota’s roster of Super Formula drivers as early as 2022.
Toyota has yet to name its full Super Formula Lights line-up for 2021. In last month’s post-season test at Fuji Speedway, Miyata’s 2020 teammate Kazuko Kotaka ran alongside Hibiki Taira, last year’s Japanese Formula 4 champion.
Kotaka, third in SF Lights last year behind Miyata and Sena Sakaguchi, was not named on Toyota’s roster of GT300 drivers for 2021 last Friday.
Team Thailand was also not mentioned in that announcement, with Toyota simply listing the #35 used by the team in recent seasons as ‘TBN’. Alesi's new teammate Walkinshaw is set for his third season with the squad, the pair most likely piloting a Lexus RC F GT3.
#35 arto RC F GT3
Photo by: Masahide Kamio