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Matsushita targets F1 superlicence for 2018

Nobuharu Matsushita, Sauber, Honda
© XPB 

Honda's junior driver Nobuharu Matsushita has his sights set on winning enough points in this year's Formula 2 championship to secure his Formula 1 superlicence for 2018.

Drivers need 40 superlicence points to take part in F1. These are earned by the driver's performances in junior championships over the course of a three year period.

Matsushita needs to finish the 2017 Formula 2 championship in the top three to put him past the post in terms of F1 eligibility.

The 23-year-old Tokyo native is currently sixth in the standings after 14 of 22 races. He needs to close a gap of 32 points to make it into the top three.

“This year my objective is to be in the top three of Formula 2, to get the superlicence to do F1 next year,” he said. “I have to do well in Formula 2, and we will see next year.

"I think it’s very possible. We had some difficult weekends before," he told Motorsport.com.

Matsushita has claimed two sprint race wins in 2017, including the most recent outing in Hungary. He's hoping to be even stronger after the summer break.

"Spa is my favourite, the car will be very good also. I’m positive for the next races. I can do a good job I think."

Matsushita has already completed two previous seasons in GP2, the forerunner to Formula 2. He was ninth in 2015 with ART, but dropped to 11th in 2016 after missing the Austria race weekend. He had been suspended by race stewards for driving standards at the previous race in Baku.

The Japanese driver said that even if he didn't secure enough superlicence points this season, he wouldn't consider staying in the championship for a fourth season.

"No, I don’t think so. But I will be in the top three," he insisted.

Matsushita recently enjoyed his first taste of 2017-specification Formula 1 hardware. He turned out for Sauber on the second day of in-season testing at the Hungaroring at the start of August.

The test opportunity was a result of Sauber's planned engine link-up with Honda for 2018. That has since been called off, closing off one opportunity for Matsushita to make it onto the Grand Prix grid.

However fresh rumours have linked Honda to supplying engines to Toro Rosso next season, which could be a fresh chance for Matsushita.

“This is out of my control," Matsushita replied when asked about the likelihood of such a chance. "I just need to do a good job with Formula 2."

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