Two-time Japanese Super Formula champion Naoki Yamamoto could be set for more F1 outings next season thanks to Red Bull and Honda.
Yamamoto, whose abundant talent should have landed him an F1 drive long ago according to his former Super GT teammate Jenson Button, impressed Red Bull after his run in FP1 at this year’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Unfortunately, the 31-year-old driver’s age doesn’t make him a prime candidate for a seat in F1.
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However, a report from Motorsport.com contends that Red Bull and Honda are still eager to give Yamamoto more F1 mileage at some point in 2020.
“We confirm that we are having conversations about him with Red Bull and Helmut Marko,” said Honda F1 boss Masashi Yamamoto.
“We have quite a good offer, but this is not only Honda’s decision or the team’s decision, we have to speak to Naoki himself as well of course.
“He’s participating in different series as well. It’s still ongoing.”
Honda’s young driver programme hasn’t yet succeeded in identifying a talent worthy of a promotion to F1.
Nobuharu Matsushita has been competing in GP2/F2 for four years, yet only has a single win to his credit in the feeder series, while former F2 racers Tadasuke Makino and Nirei Fukuzumi have fallen off Honda’s radar.
The Japanese manufacturer’s best bet for the future is perhaps Formula 3 race winner Yuki Tsunoda, if the 19-year-old can make the step to F2 in the near term.
Honda’s Yamamoto underscored the difficulty in finding a young talent whose personality also fits the bill overall.
“Of course, the driving skill or speed is needed, but it’s not only about that,” said Masashi Yamamoto, quoted by Motorsport.com.
“If you see Jenson Button, he’s quick, but also his personality, the way he reacts to fans and also the media as well, and also the team relationship, dealing with people.
“Those aspects are really important.”
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