One of motorsports’ most talented young drivers is departing Super GT, at least for the time being, to begin their ascent up the ladder to the Formula One World Championship.
19-year-old Tadasuke Makino, a top prospect of the Honda Formula Dream Project (HFDP), has been confirmed for a full season campaign in the 2017 FIA European Formula 3 Championship with top British team Hitech GP.
Makino drove four races in the 2016 Autobacs Super GT Series, making his debut in GT300 with Cars Tokai Dream28 at the Suzuka 1000km. Makino set the GT300 lap record at Suzuka Circuit in qualifying for the race.
He then moved up to GT500 for the final three rounds of the season, joining Hideki Mutoh at Drago Modulo Honda Racing. In his first GT500 race at Buriram United International Circuit in Thailand, Makino qualified on the front row, and finished second in the race, becoming the youngest GT500 podium finisher in history.
In his single-seater career, Makino finished as the runner-up in the 2015 FIA F4 Japanese Championship to Sho Tsuboi, in his very first year out of karting. For 2016, Makino moved up to the All-Japan Formula Three Championship with TODA Racing, and finished an impressive fifth in the championship standings, with a pole position and four podium finishes. He then finished 14th in his first foray into the Macau Grand Prix.
A move to European F3 was in the works for several months, as Makino was first expected to join five-time European F3 championship-winning super squadron, Prema Powerteam. Makino had also tested for Carlin, but in the end, Honda and Makino finally came to a deal with Hitech GP.
Hitech GP have a technical alliance with top single-seater racing team ART Grand Prix, who in turn, have an alliance with the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team – building a clear pathway for Makino to eventually reach F1, with fellow Honda/HFDP drivers Nobuharu Matsushita and Nirei Fukuzumi racing in the GP2 and GP3 Series respectively.
The winner of the European F3 Championship will qualify for an FIA Super License, and become eligible to race in Formula 1 the following year.
Makino’s teammates at Hitech GP will be former Italian F4 champion Ralf Aron, Force India test driver Nikita Mazepin, and former BRDC F4 (now BRDC British F3) champion Jake Hughes.
The 2017 European Formula 3 season begins the weekend of April 14-16 at Silverstone Circuit, England. We wish Makino the absolute best on his journey, and will welcome him back to Super GT with open arms in the future.