The Japanese single-seater series has been experimenting with different downforce levels as part of its extensive next-generation development programme, aimed at reducing the championship’s carbon footprint and increasing the quality of the racing.

An updated version of the Dallara-built SF19 car is set to be introduced next year featuring some of these innovations, including Yokohama tyres partly based on renewable materials and new ‘hybrid’ bodywork featuring a mix of B-comp hemp fibre and carbon fibre.

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In the first test with the development cars at Fuji Speedway in April, the series tried out reducing downforce by 10 percent, 15 percent and 20 percent to see the effects not only on how easy it is for cars to follow each other closely, but also tyre life.

Yoji Nagai, the technical director of the development programme, told last weekend at Autopolis that with the deadline to fix the technical specs for the 2023 cars looming, a development direction has been established after the latest test.

“We will reduce the downforce by a little over 10 percent,” confirmed ex-Toyota F1 man Nagai. “It’s probably the most stable option when we consider the speed of the cars. 

“The new tyres will be developed from now on according to the downforce levels, so we needed to have a number for the downforce. 

“Also, when we lower the downforce, the tyre performance changes too. So we need to consider both the tyres and the bodywork as a combination in order to create more battles between cars. 

“I am confident next year we’ll have a car that can battle really closely, and I’m looking forward to it.”


Nagai admitted a drop in downforce will inevitably lead to slower laptimes for a category second only to Formula 1 worldwide in terms of lap speed.

“We are aiming for the laptimes to be within one second of the current laptimes,” he clarified. “I don’t think we can hope for any more than that.”

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JRP boss Yoshihisa Ueno previously confirmed that Super Formula’s next-gen development plans mean that an all-new chassis will not arrive in 2024, as per the championship’s usual five-year cycle for new cars.

However, Nagai suggested that the updated SF19 will be in use for three seasons before an all-new car arrives in 2026.

“[An all-new car] is not that far in the future,” he said. “Normally we would use the same chassis for three seasons… so you can use your imagination.”

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