It isn't just Formula 1 that took a leap of faith for 2014, but one of the most hardcore single-seater categories as well. The best-ever sounding V8-based, open cockpit Super Formula (aka Formula Nippon) has turned their priorities to show off some propelled forced induction, going super touring later on.
Not too long ago I wrote about some still remaining open-wheel single seater series that keep using the seemingly antiques of naturally aspirated racing engines. Under there I listed Formula Nippon as one contender. I had a thought about it and remembered reading somewhere about some big overhaul, so I checked it again, and at the very same moment - surprise, surprise - a comment popped up at my post showing the exact video I was watching at the moment.
The video in question was showing the new Super Formula cars testing for the 2014 season. These Japanese single-seaters didn't sound like they used to. The sound was truly remarkable for what it was, but nothing compared to the old scream. That's right - the masters of making naturally aspirated engines went totally turbo:
The cars look interesting, spot on F1 from 2009, but the soundtrack is much different from current F1, as the new SF cars have l4s insead of V6s. This is where it gets interesting, because these powerplants will be shared with the new-spec. SuperGT GT500 cars. Which are now in close relation with DTM cars and it has been revealed that DTM expressed interest in going l4T in the future. So if you live in Europe, you're possibly listening to the future of DTM in the video above.
As far as the old Super Formula car is concerned, it was a much enjoyable piece - soundtrack included -, except maybe the hideous front wing. Otherwise the Dallara chassis looked very much like a CART racer from the 90s, which can be quantified among the best-looking single-seaters with wings on it.
The reason this has to be brought up is whether there is a trend in this. Of course Formula Nippon wishes to be counted at the top single-seater categories, mimicking some of F1's current features, such as the new engine formula and DRS, but on the other part of the globe, GP3 (formerly a series with turbocharged, 2L l4 engines) recently went for N/A 3.5L V6s, which then puts it in the same league with Formula Renault 3.5. In the meantime, GP2 is remaining the open-wheel series hosting the largest displacement N/A engines - probably since the disappearance of F5000 - with its 4L Mecachrome powerplants, which leads back to another question:
Why did Bernie acquire the rights to the "GP1" name a couple of years ago?
Frankly, some of these cars should be put on the same grid at one point.