One week before the final round of the Autobacs Super GT Series at Twin Ring Motegi, a report from Jamie Klein of Motorsport.com says that 19-year-old rookie Tadasuke Makino is set to drive in the 2017 FIA European Formula 3 Championship for Prema Powerteam.
Makino, who drives for Drago Modulo Honda Racing in Super GT, and was the top prospect of the Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP) in All-Japan Formula 3 this season, would reportedly join a Prema squad alongside fellow rookie candidate Mick Schumacher, with both drivers testing at the Nurburgring in Germany next week.
In October, Makino made a sensational GT500 debut aboard the Drago NSX, finishing 2nd on debut, becoming the youngest podium finisher in the history of Super GT’s top division, while also giving the Drago Modulo team their first-ever GT500 podium alongside Hideki Mutoh. He also drove the GT300-class Lotus Evora MC for Cars Tokai Dream28 in the Suzuka 1000km this August.
Makino was fifth in All-Japan F3, second amongst all rookies, driving for TODA Racing. Last year, he finished second in the inaugural FIA F4 Japanese Championship, in his first year in single-seater racing. He is set to make his Macau Grand Prix debut for TODA later this month.
Should Makino join Prema Powerteam in 2017, he will join the dominant force in European Formula 3, who have won five out of five championships in the series since it was relaunched in 2012. 2014 champion Esteban Ocon has already made his Formula 1 debut, while 2016 champion Lance Stroll will make his debut next year for Williams.
And it would not prohibit Makino from running a dual campaign in both European F3 and Super GT, as was proven with Nick Cassidy this season, who has raced for both Lexus Team au TOM’s in GT500, and Prema in European F3 in 2016. Cassidy was fourth in this year’s European F3 championship standings for Prema.
The deal is still pending official confirmation from Honda, Prema Powerteam, and Makino himself – but it is a massive step for Honda to put Makino, arguably Japan’s top Formula 1 prospect, on the road towards F1 in the very near future.