Your guide to the 2023 Super Formula Lights season

While the main programme of the Japanese Super Formula Championship has already completed three races, the talents of the Super Formula Lights get behind the wheel again next weekend. As the 2023 season for Japan’s training class gets underway, Feeder Series tells you all you need to know ahead of the first round.

By René Oudman

With seven alumni from the last three seasons, Super Formula Lights is delivering exactly what it was conceived for, that being recruitment for Super Formula. Ritomo Miyata, Sena Sakaguchi, Ren Sato, Atsushi Miyake, Giuliano Alesi, Kazuto Kotaka and Kakunoshin Ohta all found the route to the highest class of Japanese open-wheel racing by competing in the SF Lights.

The 2022 season was marked by a battle between Kotaka and Ohta after Seita Nonaka and Hibiki Taira failed to see through an early attack. In the end, it was Kotaka who took the title, although the young Japanese made it more exciting than he would have liked, the final race won by his direct opponent Ohta. 

The grid for 2023 is once again small. With no fewer than three serious racing classes on the ladder toward Super Formula, the size of the Super Formula Lights grid suffers. Only 12 cars appear at the start, three of which are driven by veteran drivers, who are over 40 years old. Nevertheless, Super Formula Lights welcomes a lot of talent again this year.

The Calendar

The 2023 Super Formula Lights season consists of eighteen races. These will be completed over six race weekends. It kicks off at Autopolis, with the final race weekend taking place at Motegi in November.

  • Round 1: Autopolis (20-21 May)
  • Round 2: Sportsland SUGO (16-18 June)
  • Round 3: Suzuka (30 June, 1-2 July)
  • Round 4: Fuji Speedway (14-16 July)
  • Round 5: Okayama (8-10 September)
  • Round 6: Mobility Resort Motegi (10-12 November)

Teams and drivers


Probably the best-known team in Japan is Nobuhide Tachi’s TOM’S. In Super Formula, with Giuliano Alesi and Ritomo Miyata, the green-black brigade has two drivers who have progressed to the highest level in recent years.

In Lights this year, Enzo Trulli (#37) is the big eye-catcher. The 18-year-old son of one-time Formula One race winner Jarno Trulli has switched to Japan after an unsuccessful year with Carlin in Formula 3.

At TOM’S, the young Trulli meets three Japanese talents. After starting from scratch last year, Hibiki Taira (#1) and Seita Nonaka (#35) had to stand idly by as Kotaka and Ohta ran away with the first two places in the championship. The drivers, both 22 years old, will be looking to make a renewed grab for success and are in a solid place to do so at TOM’S, which develops its own engines. 

Hibiki Taira (#1), TOM’S | Credit: Super Formula Lights

Completing the quartet is Yuga Furutani (#36), who managed five podium finishes in his 2022 debut year. It is up to these four drivers to keep TOM’S on top, considering Tachi’s stable captured both the drivers’ and team championship titles last year.


The opposition from TOM’S, supplier to Toyota teams, obviously comes from the corner of B-Max Racing Team, a racing stable with a direct link to Honda. B-Max, the team of Ryuji ‘Dragon’ Kumita (#30), team owner and active driver, is fielding no fewer than six cars this year. Five of them run with engines from Spiess and only Dragon’s own car is powered by TOMEI-power.

At B-Max, two drivers known from Europe are driving. Like Trulli, Spaniard David Vidales (#51) has made the move to the Far East after spending a season in FIA Formula 3 with Campos Racing. Vidales will meet 24-year-old Igor Fraga (#52) at B-Max, a Brazilian with Japanese roots who had secretly slipped a little under the radar. Despite not racing competitively since 2020 in FIA Formula 3, he may distinguish himself in Super Formula Lights and SUPER GT this year.

The sextet is completed by three Japanese drivers, with Iori Kimura (#50) being the most notable name. The 23-year-old Russian- Japanese driver was allowed to make the unusual move into Super Formula Lights last year after a strong season in the F4 Japanese Championship and did quite well. Kimura won no fewer than three races in his debut year and finished third in the championship, behind Kotaka and Ohta. As such, Kimura may be marked as the main title contender from the B-Max racing stable.

Iori Kimura (#50), B-Max Racing | Credit: Super Formula Lights

Competing for a title, so do Nobuhiro Imada (#4) and Takashi Hata (#53). However, Imada and Hata, like Dragon, do so in the so-called ‘Masters Class.’ Imada is the reigning champion, and Hata is also coming back to the SFL after a few years in other classes.

One-car teams

The entry list for the 2023 Super Formula Lights championship is filled with two one-car teams.

Toda Racing, which proved last year with Ohta behind the wheel that a team does not necessarily need to field four cars to be successful, has a rookie competing this year. Syun Koide (#2), much like Kimura, comes over directly from F4 Japan, having won the championship by force last year. If he can continue his growth process, Koide is certainly a contender for a future seat in Super Formula.

Syun Koide (#2), Toda Racing | Credit: Super Formula Lights

The 12 entries are completed by Rn-sports, which will not enter the race with a veteran driver this year, but with a slightly younger driver. Yuui Tsutsumi (#10) has already gained experience in the SUPER GT. Toda and Rn both run Spies-powered cars.

Header photo credit: Super Formula Lights


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