Matsushita 'gambling' on set-up on Super Formula return
Nobuharu Matsushita says he and his B-Max Racing team have had no choice but to "gamble" on set-up on their return to Super Formula action this weekend at Suzuka.
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Delays in securing Honda's blessing for an engine lease meant both Matsushita and B-Max had to skip both pre-season tests in March as well as the opening round of the season at Fuji Speedway earlier this month.
On his first day of Super Formula action since last year's Fuji season finale, Matsushita made it out of his Q1 group but was unable to progress out of Q2, qualifying 12th out of 19 cars.
The ex-Formula 2 racer said that losing mileage in practice proved very costly, as even with very limited running the team was able to improve the car significantly ahead of qualifying.
"We had an electronic issue in practice and we couldn’t do many laps or use new tyres," Matsushita told Motorsport.com. "So after that, it was kind of like a gamble on the set-up, thinking ‘maybe this way is better’, and we changed the set-up and put new tyres on.
"Q1 was fine, but Q2 was far from what we wanted. It’s a bit frustrating. If practice had gone well, we could have done much better [in qualifying] for sure. The car made a big step in Q1. So if I could have driven more, we could have done an even bigger step.
"We are one second off the best guys, which is not all the car, some of that is myself as well. That’s the situation at the moment."
Nobuharu Matsushita, Satoshi Motoyama, B-Max Racing Team
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Matsushita's lack of preparation has been exacerbated by B-Max only being able to run one car at Suzuka, with the driver planned to be his teammate, rookie Yves Baltas, still unable to enter Japan.
"We had no data, no testing, everything is new," continued Matsushita. "We don’t know how it’s going to be [when we make set-up changes]. It’s a gamble every time. It was difficult.
"The other teams have two cars – one is trying Plan A, the other Plan B, and they can decide the best things. We cannot do that."
On his targets for the race, the 27-year-old said: "I need to do my job and not make any mistakes, get the data and do a good run. We need to learn the right brake temperatures, tyre pressures, like a proper test. But I want to be in the top eight at the minimum."
Nobuharu Matsushita, B-Max Racing Team
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
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