The Next Verstappen? Japanese teenage sensation set for Formula 4 debut
With racing drivers at the start of their careers, it's not uncommon to see such drivers embarking on their dream job sometimes no older than four or five years of age in karting. For the majority of drivers, they become involved in more serious and competitive championships around the age of nine or ten as they look to impress and find a future way into a single seater series. However, there is one such driver that has already, rather amazingly, made that step at nine years already, Japanese youngster Juju Noda.
A daughter of former F1, IndyCar and Super GT driver Hideki Noda, Juju started her racing adventure with her first car at just three years of age, and by nine she had already tested in F4 machinery in Japan, and his been more recently racing Formula 3 spec cars in the Japanese U17 category. Noda, with the help and expertise of her father, broke the F4 U17 lap record at the Okayama International Raceway in Japan.
Dubbed the next Max Verstappen, Noda will now prepare for a move and relocation of the Noda Racing team, to Norway as Juju will participate in the 2020 Danish F4 series. Being unable to further progress in open-wheel racing in Japan until she is 15, Noda sought the move in order to keep racing and possibly attract to European attention. For the moment, the 13 year old will continue to test and get ready in Japan until the New Year, which she will be 14 by the start of next season's F4 championship.
Daughter of former F1 driver Hideki Noda, Juju has grown up around racing cars from an early age.
“She has the ability to feel the limits of her race car, and the adhesion limits of the tyres,” Father Hideki told website Great Big Story. “That’s critical and it’s not something you can teach someone. She was born with it. When Juju feels she’s on the limit, she will back off but still stay focused and relaxed and fast.”
“By the age of nine, Juju was racing F4 machines and winning against much older kids. More recently, she's been on track in an F3 car. She’ll have to wait until 2021 before she can compete, when she’s 15, but the ambitious teen already has her sights set on the big leagues; Formula One. There’s already been women in F1, as F1 racers, but there hasn’t been any female F1 winners yet. I want to be the first one.”
The Danish Formula 4 car runs to much the same spec of that found in the British Formula 4 championship. The chassis is one constructed from Mygale cars, powered by a 2.0 litre engine provided by Renault. As mentioned above, Noda Racing will relocate to Denmark as an effort to support Juju in her Danish F4 challenge.
Thank you to all of Noda Racing mechanics and staff, my friends and family and everyone at school,” said Noda. “I am graduating from U17 this season. It is difficult to put into words how much full of gratitude I am for these years. From next year, new challenges will begin again. I have a mix of excitement and nervousness. The Danish F4 championship will feature three official tests and 24 races.
“It will be my biggest challenge yet but I am really looking forward to it. I am lucky to be able to do what I love, even racing at my age. As it will be my first time in Denmark and knowing this is a championship with many fast and young drivers, I am prepared to try my best and fight hard.”
So, what do we think? Could Juju Yoda be the real deal? From looking at her past experiences in single seaters, one could definitely think she is on for a bright future in open-wheel racing. Remember the name, I have a feeling you will be hearing a lot of it in the years to come..