Matsushita brands return Super Formula race a "disaster"
Nobuharu Matsushita has branded his return Super Formula race a "disaster" after finishing in a disappointing 13th at Suzuka on Sunday.
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After being forced to skip pre-season testing and the opening round of the season at Fuji Speedway owing to Honda's refusal to supply an engine, Matsushita was able to rejoin the Super Formula field at Suzuka as part of a one-car entry for the B-Max Racing team.
The ex-Formula 2 racer had predicted a tough weekend owing to his and the team's lack of preparation, but exceeded expectations by making it out of Q1 on Saturday and qualifying a respectable 12th - despite an electrical issue in practice that cost him valuable track time.
Matsushita said after that he hoped to finish inside the top eight as a "minimum" target, but after moving up to 11th on the opening lap he wouldn't make any further progress.
By lap five of 30 he had been knocked back to 13th after being passed by Kenta Yamashita and a recovering Toshiki Oyu, which is where he would ultimately finish after losing time in the pits.
"I think it was a disaster for us," Matsushita told Motorsport.com. "We had no pace, we were not competitive at all. We made some mistakes in the pitstop as well. All weekend we didn’t have the speed, so we need to find it for [the next race at] Autopolis.
"I had a decent start, Giuliano [Alesi] was quite aggressive, I overtook him and we touched a bit. But I am normally good at the start.
"After that, there was just no pace. It’s hard to comment [on the exact problem] at the moment, but I think we need to change something big and do something completely different for Autopolis."
Matsushita lost around 10 seconds compared to the front-runners in his pitstop, something he put down to the rustiness of a crew that has not completed a live stop since December.
Asked what could be expected for the remainder of the season after his bruising Suzuka experience, he simply replied: "I don’t know. First of all we need to see the data with the team and learn from this weekend."
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