TOM’S driver Miyata holds an eight-point lead over Lawson ahead of the final two races of the season this weekend, with defending two-time champion Tomoki Nojiri a further two points behind.
Since the previous race at Motegi in August, Lawson has made five grand prix starts for AlphaTauri as an injury substitute for Daniel Ricciardo, making a big impression in the process – even if he was ultimately passed up for a full-time 2024 seat.
As Super Formula reconvenes for the first time since his rival’s temporary F1 promotion this weekend, Miyata says Lawson’s elevated standing in the grand prix paddock can only be a good thing for his own future.
“The Mugen drivers [Lawson and Nojiri] have won five races this season, and I’ve won twice, so I have to fight against two drivers, which is really difficult,” Miyata told Autosport.
“But if I can win the championship, maybe I can open up my future more, so the title is really important to me.
“I know that Liam also really wants to win the title, but now he has become a Formula 1 driver and he was able to show the level of Super Formula to the world.
“If I can win the championship, I think I will have more chances to race worldwide. I will be able to say: I am faster than a Formula 1 driver!”
Miyata, who looks set to combine Super Formula with an assault on the World Endurance Championship in a Lexus GT3 car in 2024, also acknowledged the significance of Ryo Hirakawa’s recent call-up to a McLaren reserve driver position in Formula 1.
Ritomo Miyata, VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S
Photo by: Masahide Kamio
Hirakawa’s surprise appointment has been viewed as a first step in a closer relationship between Toyota and McLaren in future, one that could have implications for Miyata’s career.
“I already talked with [Toyota chairman] Akio [Toyoda]-san and [president Koji] Sato-san, I told them my dream and my targets for my future racing career,” he said when asked for his thoughts on Hirakawa’s F1 chance.
“I drove a Ferrari in the WEC [at Fuji] and now Hirakawa had the opportunity to drive in F1, so I want to say thanks to Toyota for supporting us to do this.”
Miyata set to reach superlicence goal
Whatever happens in this weekend’s Super Formula finale, Miyata is set to finally achieve his goal of becoming eligible for a superlicence that would allow him to race in F1.
The FIA’s rules state that drivers whose three-year window for accumulating superlicence points includes 2020 or 2021 can take their best three scores from their most recent four seasons, due to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miyata needs 15 points from 2023 to reach the 40-point target, having scored 15 from his 2020 Super Formula Lights title win and another 10 last year for finishing fourth in Super Formula.
He can do this by finishing as low as third in the final standings, something he can guarantee by scoring just four points – equivalent to finishing seventh – across the two races.
Even in the event Miyata somehow fails to score, either Hirakawa or Sho Tsuboi, currently fourth and fifth respectively in the championship, would need to score close to the maximum 46 points available at Suzuka to beat Miyata to third overall.