Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko now views the Japanese Super Formula series as a good training ground for members of its junior programme.

The fiercely competitive championship has been used as an alternative to Formula 2 or an extension to the FIA series for drivers vying for a seat in Formula 1.

“We were very impressed last year with the performance and development of Pierre Gasly, so we are sending some other drivers to Super Formula next year,” he said.

Indeed, Red Bull will support the efforts of European F3 runner-up Dan Ticktum, former Mercedes protégé and DTM driver Lucas Auer and Harrison Newey, the son of Red Bull Racing design guru Adrian Newey.

“We support the young Newey, but he is not a Red Bull junior team member,” Marko clarified.

The addition of Auer to Red Bull’s junior roster has come as a surprise given that the Austrian is already 24-years-old.

“We want to keep Auer’s career going,” he added, not ruling out an F1 future for Gerhard Berger’s nephew who tested with Force India in the past.

“With Super Formula alone, he cannot get the points he needs for a Formula 1 license, he needs more.”

Marko likes what he sees in Super Formula, a series where Red Bull can also perhaps capitalize on its burgeoning relationship with Honda who will supply its engine to both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso next season.

“The cars are fast and it seems to be difficult to get the best from the tyres, which is similar to Europe,” said the Austrian who can make or break a young driver’s career.

“Generally it is a very impressive field and a good training ground for Formula 1.”

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