Japanese Grand Prix – Toro Rosso’s practice driver this weekend, Naoki Yamamoto, says his FP1 outing will be ‘very special’.
Japanese racing driver and current Super Formula championship leader Naoki Yamamoto will take to the world stage for the first time this weekend, as he takes the wheel of Toro Rosso’s STR14 for the first practice session.
The Honda-backed driver is a high profile name in the Super Formula and Super GT world, but hasn’t much recognition outside of Japan. This will change this weekend as he gets the chance to drive an F1 car for the first time, and Yamamoto says he’s thrilled to be given the opportunity: “First of all, I would like to thank Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull and of course Honda for giving me this great opportunity.”
“I am delighted that I will get to drive a Formula 1 car this weekend, something which has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. To get this chance at Suzuka, a very important circuit for all Japanese racing drivers, in front of such a big crowd of Japanese fans, will make the experience even more special. I have prepared as well as possible for this, spending time as part of the Toro Rosso team at several Grand Prix weekends and I have also worked in the Red Bull simulator.”
Sitting in Pierre Gasly’s seat for the ninety minute practice session, Yamamoto will be the first Japanese driver to take part in an F1 session since Kamui Kobayashi’s last race with Caterham back in 2014. Yamamoto says he’s aiming to provide the team with their initial weekend data, and just enjoy the one-off experience at the wheel of a contemporary F1 car: “My main aim in FP1 will be to do a good job for the team, gathering data and information which will be useful for them over the weekend.”
“On a personal note, I want to enjoy the experience of driving an F1 car as much as possible and I will be trying my very best to get the most out of it. It will be a special moment and I’m glad I will get to share it with the fans at this amazing race track, where I first watched Formula 1 cars in action 27 years ago.”
Reigning Super Formula and Super GT Champion, Naoki Yamamoto, will drive in FP1 for Toro Rosso in Suzuka! 👊 #JapaneseGP 🇯🇵 #f1jp
📲 https://t.co/Hupu4TNhvH pic.twitter.com/YRnPWlJEXu
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) October 7, 2019