Honda reveals driver line-up of Super GT & Super Formula series' for 2019 season
Honda has revealed its line-up for the 2019 Super GT and Super Formula championships with certain drivers having a dual programme.
Having made a successful debut in 2018 with Team Kunimitsu in the Honda NSX-GT car alongside Naoki Yamamoto where they won the drivers' title, the 2009 F1 champion Button will stay on in the Super GT's GT500 class in 2019 to defend his crown.
The duo will use the #1 car this time around as opposed to the #100 they used last year. Button will be joined by another ex-F1 racer Karthikeyan, who has moved on from Super Formula to make his debut in the Super GT series.
The Indian will be partnered by Tadasuke Makino at Nakajima Racing (#64 car) as the Japanese driver will run a dual programme while also racing in Super Formula. The team is fielding an all-new line-up for the 2019 season.
One of its drivers who raced for them in 2018, Belgium's Bertrand Baguette, has moved to Real Racing (#17 car) alongside Kodai Tsukakoshi for the 2019 season as the Japanese driver will solely focus on a Super GT programme.
The remaining two outfits, Team Mugen (#16 car) and Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (#8 car) will feature the same drivers as in 2018. The former will have Hideki Muto and Daisuke Nakajima with the latter having Tomoki Nojiri and Takuya Izawa.
Like Tsukakoshi, the pair of Karthikeyan and Izawa will just drive in Super GT in 2019 with Nojiri and Yamamoto continuing with a dual programme. The GT300 class will see an expanded Honda line-up in the 2019 season with the Honda NSX-GT3 car.
It will continue with Drago Corse (#34 car) fielding Ryo Michigami and Hiroki Otsu but they will be joined by two new outfits who have shifted to Honda, they are Team UpGarage (#18 car) and Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (#55 car).
The former will field the pair of Takashi Kobayashi and Kosuke Matsuura while the latter will have Shinichi Takagi and Nirei Fukuzumi - with Fukuzumi running a dual programme alongside his Super Formula drive.
Only two drivers remain in Honda's Super Formula line-up for 2019 who completed a full season in 2018. Among the two are reigning champion Naoki Yamamoto and Tomoki Nojiri, but both have been shifted to different teams.
Yamamoto (#1 car) moves from Team Mugen to Team Dandelion Racing and will be partnered by Nirei Fukuzumi (#5 car), who raced alongside him in selected rounds in 2018. Fukzumi will undertake a full season in 2019 alongside a Super GT programme.
At the same time, Nojiri (#16) has moved to Team Mugen from Team Dandelion to join Red Bull junior Dan Ticktum (#15) with the British racer also signing for a full year in 2019. Fellow Red Bull driver Lucas Auer (#50) has been named as B-Max Racing driver.
The Austrian will be joined by newcomer Newey - son of tech guru Adrian - who tested the car in the December Rookie Test. The British racer had moved to sportscar racing in 2018 and makes a return to single-seater fold in 2019.
Also named in the list is Palou (#64 car), who moves from Europe to Japan after contesting in the FIA European F3 Championship in 2018. The Spaniard will race for a new-look TCS Nakajima Racing outfit as he joins Tadasuke Makino (#65 car) in it.
The Japanese racer also moves from Europe to Japan after racing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2018. Completing Honda's expanded line-up will be Tristan Charpentier (#17 car) with Real Racing in the sole car.
The French racer raced in the BRDC British F3 series in 2018. Overall, Honda's 2019 line-up has a fresh look with more drivers on the younger side - Yamamoto being the eldest at 30-years - and also majority (5) are not from Japan.
[Note: This story was also written by me on FormulaRapida.net]