Ayumu Iwasa learnt a ton during his sole season of Formula 3, making improvements across the board, but the DAMS driver says the biggest of them all was his grasp of the English language.
Smiling as he says it, Iwasa progressed solidly in what was only his second season of European racing, even if he admits the results didn’t always show it.
A consistent points scorer in the opening F3 three rounds, with five top 10 finishes, Iwasa only made the top 10 five more times in the following four rounds. Although this period did include two podiums, including a win at Budapest, the Japanese driver feels he was better in the second half of the season.
“The first part of the season was quite consistent, but not very quick,” he explained. “I think the second half of the season was better. I was a bit more aggressive in the second part, which I think is good. I made mistakes, but I had a good feeling about the car, and I was quicker.
“In the first part of the season, I was struggling with my English as well as the car setup and tyre management. I heard from Hitech engineers that my biggest improvement last year was my English!
“From the Hungaroring, I changed my driving style and race-style. I still made some mistakes at the Hungaroring, but I had a better result in Qualifying, with P10, which helped me to win Race 1. That was a turning point for me.”
The 20-year-old was Hitech Grand Prix’s sole winner in 2021 and their highest points’ scorer, finishing ahead of fellow rookie Jak Crawford and second-year Roman Staněk.
His performances convinced the Red Bull Junior Team to promote him to F2 with DAMS following a successful end of season test with the French team in Yas Marina. It was a move that initially came as a surprise to Iwasa, although the Japanese racer says he welcomed it.
“I didn’t think that my F3 result was enough to step up, to be honest,” Iwasa laughed. “But in the post-season test, I learned a lot from the team and from Roy (Nissany). I was also with DAMS for the last round of the F2 season and I learned a lot from being around them that weekend.
“I got to see how the team, the engineers and the mechanics work, so that helped when I jumped into the car. The tyres and the carbon brakes were very different to F3. The downforce was also greater, and the car was heavier, so there was a big difference between the high-speed and the low-speed corners in the F2 car.
“I had to adjust my driving for the corners and that is something that I am still learning. There is still some margin to improve, so I am excited to see my potential in the next test.”
Since moving to Europe for the 2020 season, Iwasa has quickly climbed the junior motorsport ladder, winning the French Formula 4 title at the first time of asking, before moving directly into F3.
And now with his rookie campaign of F2 on the horizon, Iwasa will have to get used to another new car as well as a host of unknown tracks.
“I think the first part of my F3 season was too safe, which I don't want to repeat in F2,” replied Iwasa, when he was asked how he would tackle F2. “I will try and push a bit harder than in F3.
“I need to be careful because I want to finish every session and every race, but I will try and be a bit more aggressive, while still being safe. I will get better and better results the more I learn.
“With 14 events, 28 races, it is going to be a really big season. I have never driven on around 50% of the tracks before, so there will be a lot of learning and a lot of adjusting at every race weekend. But I am not worried about that. I am looking forward to driving on the new tracks, especially the street tracks.”