Two-time champion Nojiri, who is aiming to capture a third crown in next month’s Suzuka season finale, fears outlawing damper development will make it harder for any team to overcome the inherent traits of its car, including the chassis.
Motorsport.com first revealed Super Formula’s plan to move towards a common damper in July, with the move set to mark a major philosophical shift for the Japanese single-seater series.
A desire on the part of some teams to reduce pressure on budgets is believed to have been the driving force behind the controversial change.
While Nojiri acknowledged that introducing common dampers would be positive from this standpoint, his overall opinion about the change was negative when asked for his thoughts on the looming change by Motorsport.com.
The Team Mugen driver took a new chassis earlier this season, ahead of June’s Sugo race, in a bid to deal with car behaviour he was struggling with – something he implied could become a more common feature of Super Formula without damper freedom.
“Even if it helps the budgets, in motorsport many parts make up a racing car, and obviously there are some small individual differences between them,” Nojiri said.
“Part of setting up the car is to eliminate these small differences. If we go to common dampers, it’s hard to say how much of these differences will have an impact.
“Having more freedom with the set-up allows you to eliminate these differences, and I think that helps to create a more competitive series. That’s what we have at the moment as we are able to use many different kinds of dampers.
“If we go to a common damper, it will become harder to adjust the car properly. For example, due to these small individual differences, if a certain car doesn’t turn [i.e., has understeer], or has massive oversteer… there are many of these kinds of traits.
“I don’t know the extent to which it will be possible to set up the car to account for these with a standard damper.”
Multiple paddock sources have indicated that Ohlins is poised to become the brand of damper that will be used by all teams in 2024.
This could prove to be an advantage for the Toyota teams, many of which are understood to be already using Ohlins dampers.
As well as introducing a common damper, Super Formula will also ban the use of third elements (‘inerters’), following the trend set by Formula 1 with its 2022 rules.
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