Motorsport in Japan: it’s like the Wild West – or more accurately, the Wild East. And Harrison Newey is one of the latest Europeans to head out prospecting for gold. The son of Formula 1 design genius Adrian Newey is coming to the end of his rookie season this weekend in Super Formula, as Suzuka hosts the final round. He’s happy to have made it this far, unlike fellow Brit Dan Ticktum, runner-up to Mick Schumacher in European Formula 3 last year, who lost both his drive and Red Bull’s backing after just three races.
“Everything is different in Japan,” says Newey, 21. “Even the rules. They’re based on gentlemen’s agreements rather than a rulebook. For example, I was blocked by someone in qualifying at Motegi, so I went to the stewards. That’s when I realised there’s not actually a rule that says you’re not allowed to block. If I see the same guy behind me next time, am I allowed to block him? The answer was ‘it’s not honourable’. That’s how it works.”
Super Formula, aka Formula 2, Formula 3000 and Formula Nippon, became popular back in the 1990s because there was yen to be made. Eddie Irvine, Mika Salo and Ralf Schumacher used it as a springboard to F1, and many more built careers from a foundation in Japan. Newey, a former journeyman in European F3, hopes some of that will rub off.