It isn’t just the new 2024 Formula 2 car that Ritomo Miyata is taking on for the first time. It isn’t just the Pirelli tyres he’s starting fresh with either. For the 2023 Super Formula Champion, every lap is a venture into the unknown as he competes in a European-based championship for the first time in his career.

Balancing all of that with learning a new language in a new environment and team in Rodin Motorsport – and that’s alongside early title contender and Championship leader Zane Maloney – Miyata has done a great job, with his latest results the high-water mark so far.

He sat down to reflect on the opening three rounds of the 2024 season and believes that he is getting faster and faster each time he gets out onto the track.

“The car, the tyres, driving for a European team - it’s all the first time for me because I’ve only driven in Japan up until now. Everything for me is a fresh experience, but it’s a good one. I’ve been learning how to drive the tracks with the F2 car along with the Pirelli tyres, and it’s just going step by step.

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“I think the toughest thing has been the tyres, that’s been the most difficult thing for me because we have all the different compounds that change round to round. This has made it very difficult to adjust from Practice to Qualifying to the Races. Free Practice is just 45 minutes and I only get one set of tyres, so that makes things very difficult, but I have a lot of support from the team.”

The start to the season could hardly have been tougher for Miyata. Three flyaway rounds kicked things off, and two of those took place around street circuits.

The 24-year-old says that despite the Jeddah and Albert Park circuits being difficult to learn on the job, his experiences in the former helped him achieve the great results in Melbourne.

The early rounds have been tough but Miyata feels he is improving race by race
The early rounds have been tough but Miyata feels he is improving race by race

“In Bahrain, it’s a track that I’d driven before with pre-season testing before the weekend. I understood a little bit how to drive it in Qualifying and in the races, how to use the tyres a bit so that’s why in Bahrain I wasn’t too fast, but I made a strong start for what was my first race weekend.

“Jeddah was really difficult because it’s a street circuit with a smooth surface, but also really tight. Driving feels very fast, one mistake will easily result in a crash. I was worried about making a mistake because if I did, the car would be damaged. So, in my mind, I was just learning lap by lap the tyres and the track. Jeddah was very difficult, but I learned a lot.

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“I think that it helped me in Melbourne because the track characteristics are very similar. The track in Melbourne is a bit wider compared to Jeddah, so that experience helped me a lot.”

Miyata has taken a very pragmatic approach so far in 2024, eager to make the most of every mile he completes at the wheel of F2 in the early part of the campaign. The Rodin driver says he has been soaking up as much information as possible, racing with that in mind for much of the opening three rounds.

It has been an approach that has rewarded him with his best results yet, with his pair of P5 finishes in Australia just desserts for his determination.

Melbourne represented the Rodin drivers best results to date with two P5 finishes in Australia
Melbourne represented the Rodin driver's best results to date, with two P5 finishes in Australia

“Of course, I want good results in Qualifying but with Practice being just 45 minutes and it being a new track for me, I made a few trips into the gravel, had a few half spins, I was worried about making a mistake. I was worried about making another mistake a bit too much in Qualifying.

“But after that, I gained the positions back in the race, so it was a very good feeling. I somewhat understood how to fight on the track in the race, so that’s why I was able to gain positions.

“My priority is to always make the chequered flag because if I make a mistake or crash or retire from a race, I can’t gain more understanding of how to drive this F2 car. I want to get to the end to improve my understanding for next time and improve my driving.

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“I think I’ve learned how to drive with this type of tyre because it’s very sensitive. If I lock-up for instance, it’s easy to damage the tyre and that will cost you lap time. It’s difficult to manage but this is where I’m improving.”

Alongside him at Rodin, teammate Maloney has been a helpful influence on how quickly Miyata has been able to adapt to F2. With the Bajan driver currently leading the Championship Standings on 67 points with two wins to his name, Miyata has had a great reference point from which to learn from, he says.

Reflecting on his own early season performances, the Japanese driver says that he can already see where he would have done some things differently, but adds that he is feeling positive about improvements going forward.

Another challenge awaits with the return to Europe and venues rivals are much more familiar with
Another challenge awaits with the return to Europe and venues rivals are much more familiar with

“Zane is always helping me. For example, on the track walk every race weekend he’s told me how best to manage the tyres. He’s been very kind but, on the track, we’re always racing clean. He’s very clever, has good potential and that’s why he’s leading the Championship. His Qualifying and race pace is very good.

“If I look back at Bahrain, I think I could have gotten more points because I had the test before and understood how to drive the track and use the tyres there. But after, Jeddah and Melbourne – the first time there was Free Practice and only having 45 minutes was very difficult. In Melbourne, we got really good results which for me was a surprise. Maybe this experience will help me in the future.”

Next up is in-season testing around another new venue for him: Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Japanese racer explains that he will be learning another new track across the three days alongside working with Rodin to improve performance ahead of Imola and Round 4.

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“The Barcelona test – all the drivers will be learning for the next round. All of the tracks coming up are European tracks, everyone knows the tracks but not with the new car. For me, it’s all the first time so I have to learn how to drive Barcelona and then how to improve the car.

“I’m looking forward to it and if I can understand how to drive the new car a bit more along with the tyres, maybe the test will be a lot of help.”

He added: “This is my rookie year in F2, the first year of my career in Europe so it’s a big challenge for me. My main language is Japanese, second is English so I’m learning everything as I go. I’m learning English with the team, engineers and mechanics and my teammate.

“The driving is a bit different from Japanese motorsport too. F2 has many rookie drivers, and we always compare rookies and those that are more experienced, but it’s tough, very tough. It’s a big challenge, but I’m enjoying it.”