Makino feels ready for Super Formula title assault
Makino heads into his fourth season in Japan’s top single-seater series as Dandelion’s de facto lead driver following Nirei Fukuzumi’s surprise move to minnow Honda squad Drago Corse over the winter.
- Fukuzumi feels “different type of pressure” at Drago Corse
It will also be his first full campaign with Dandelion after he missed the first two rounds of the 2021 season due to illness.
Makino concluded last week’s Fuji pre-season test only 11th in the final order, around seven tenths slower than pacesetter Sacha Fenestraz.
But the ex-Formula 2 driver said he was unable to complete his final attack lap due to a car issue, adding he was confident about his pace on older tyres.
“The afternoon session [on the second day at Fuji] was quite good because I only used one set of new tyres,” Makino told Motorsport.com. “My earlier laps on used tyres were also quite good compared to other cars.
“The car felt pretty good, even better than Suzuka [where the opening test took place]. We did some small changes and they are working well. I felt really comfortable in the car.”
Asked if he felt ready to challenge for a first Super Formula victory at Fuji, Makino replied: “Fuji will be really important for the championship because we have two races. But compared to Suzuka I am feeling really comfortable. I think we can fight for the championship.”
For the 2022 season, Makino has moved over to the other side of the Dandelion garage to pilot the #5 car – driven last year by Fukuzumi – while new teammate Hiroki Otsu takes over the #6 machine.
Race engineer Sugisaki (left) with Makino
That means Makino is working with renowned engineer Kimitoshi Sugisaki, who took Naoki Yamamoto to the 2020 title.
“It’s been good so far,” said Makino of his relationship with Sugisaki. “He checks the data a lot, he is very precise, which is good for me.
“If I say I want, for example, more rear [grip], or more front, Sugisaki-san always has an answer for me – ride height, mechanical things. He is checking the data in a really detailed way, this is really important.”
Makino added that he doesn’t feel any additional pressure as the unofficial team leader at Dandelion, with Otsu new to the team and only making his debut last year driving for Team Mugen.
“It’s not a big change for me, honestly,” said Makino. “Otsu also has a lot of experience, he’s also brought some really good information from Mugen. If we put this together I think we have a really strong team.
“Last year we lost the teams’ championship [to Impul], and this is really important for the team. Also from my side, I really want to get my first win in Super Formula. The team is working really well with Otsu joining.”