Alesi: First SF Lights wins make up for subdued Sugo race

Giuliano Alesi says getting his first Super Formula Lights wins under his belt at Sugo helped to make up for a subdued run in the main Super Formula event.

Alesi: First SF Lights wins make up for subdued Sugo race

The second-generation French racer was making his third start for TOM’S in Super Formula as the absent Kazuki Nakajima’s replacement, and finished ninth from sixth on the grid.

That matched his result from his debut in Japan’s premier single-seater series at Suzuka, but fell some way short of repeating his surprise victory last month in a rain-shortened Autopolis round.

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However, any disappointment was tempered by Alesi scoring his first two wins in his main Super Formula Lights programme after he previously finished as runner-up on four occasions.

“Autopolis was a fantastic weekend, and I would have loved another weekend like that, but on the other side I had a better weekend in SF Lights here,” Alesi told Motorsport.com. “So I’ll take it, and the Super Formula race was a really good learning experience. 

“I was still able to get into Q3 but in the race we tried the overcut strategy, which didn’t really work, so now we’ll analyse what we could have done better and turn the page.”

Giuliano Alesi, Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S

Giuliano Alesi, Kuo VANTELIN TEAM TOM’S

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Alesi conceded one position on the opening lap to a fast-starting Toshiki Oyu, and then lost further places during the pitstop phase to Nobuharu Matsushita and Tomoki Nojiri.

The Frenchman was among the last few drivers to take his mandatory pitstop on lap 25, with Matsushita coming in on lap 10 and Nojiri leaving his stop all the way until lap 41.

Asked how he approached the weekend after his Autopolis win, Alesi replied: “You have to forget. At the start of every weekend you push the reset button, and that’s how it is.  

“I’m still a rookie, and I’ve still so much to learn. I’ve been treated very well by the team and it’s helped me a lot to get my confidence back up after two years in Formula 2, which wasn’t easy.

“Now I just have to continue the way I’m going, and we will see what can happen.”

Alesi’s pair of Super Formula Lights wins came in the first and third races of the weekend, while Teppei Natori won the second race – in which Alesi could only manage fourth.

Giuliano Alesi, TOM'S

Giuliano Alesi, TOM'S

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

It means B-Max driver Natori leads the standings by 29 points over TOM’S man Alesi with two rounds remaining this season, both at Motegi.

“Especially the pole feels really good, because I got that by nothing [0.009s ahead of Natori] and usually it’s the opposite,” said Alesi. “It was nice to be on the other side for once.

“Unfortunately I made a mistake in the second race that probably cost me a podium, but other than I’m really happy about this weekend.

“It just feels like I’m getting used to the car more, I’m starting to understand it more. It’s taken some time, longer than I expected. But this track felt a bit more suited to us.”

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