Lawson Super Formula hopes hit after massive rear-of-the-field crash at Suzuka
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 29th October, 2023 - 1:12am
Liam Lawson’s Super Formula title hopes are hanging by a thread following a major crash at the rear of the field early in the penultimate race of the season at Suzuka.
Red Bull reserve driver Lawson, who recently enjoyed a five-race F1 cameo standing in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, went into the race needing a strong result to close the eight-point gap on championship leader Ritomo Miyata, with Tomoki Najiri just two points behind in third.
Lawson’s hopes took an initial dive when he could only qualify seventh, with polesitter Najiri joined by Miyata on the front row.
On lap five of the 31-lap race around Suzuka, where Lawson had finished 11th in the grand prix a few weeks ago, a major crash at the high-speed 130R unfolded at the rear of the field involving Hiroki Otsu and Ukyo Sasahara. Both emerged unscathed.
But the incident was so severe that it caused serious damage to the catch fencing, whilst bits of the cars flew over and landed on other parts of the circuit, leading to the race being immediately red-flagged.
Following lengthy inspections of the catch fencing, it was determined it would take too long to carry out the repairs required.
That led to race control calling off the event, and declaring a result from the end of lap three, handing the victory to Nojiri, with Miyata second, whilst Lawson had at least managed to move up a place off the grid to finish sixth.
Only half points were awarded, however, given less than 75 percent of the race distance had been covered.
It leaves Lawson in third place in the drivers’ standings, 15 points adrift of Miyata, who is 6.5 clear of Nojiri, and with a possible 23 up for grabs.
A small consolation for Lawson is that he and Nojiri have clinched the constructors’ title for Team Mugen.
The ninth and final round of the championship takes place on Sunday (October 29), with qualifying and the race again at Suzuka.