Toro Rosso give Japanese star Yamamoto FP1 outing at Suzuka

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Japanese star Naoki Yamamoto will drive in front of his home crowd for Toro Rosso in Friday practice at this weekend's Grand Prix, it has been confirmed. 

The Honda-backed driver is the current Super Formula and Super GT champion and is looking to add what would be a third title in the country's top single-seater category as he holds a slender lead with one round to go at Suzuka.

Before then though, he'll get the chance to turn some laps of the world-famous circuit behind the wheel of the STR14 in Practice 1, replacing Pierre Gasly.

"My main aim in FP1 will be to do a good job for the team, gathering data and information which will be useful for them over the weekend,” Yamamoto explained.

“On a personal note, I want to enjoy the experience of driving an F1 car as much as possible and I will be trying my very best to get the most out of it.

“It will be a special moment and I’m glad I will get to share it with the fans at this amazing race track, where I first watched Formula 1 cars in action 27 years ago.”

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At 31, Yamamoto's chances of one day racing in F1 appear low, particularly at Toro Rosso, that's despite having enough points to qualify for the necessary superlicence.

Still, team boss Franz Tost believes he is fully deserving of the opportunity.

“We are very pleased to have a Japanese driver here in Suzuka driving our STR Honda, and we are sure that Naoki will enjoy the laps in FP1 on one of the greatest race tracks in the world," the Austrian said.

“He is a talented driver, being the reigning champion in Japan's two most important race series, and he also knows the Suzuka circuit very well.

“Naoki san has spent several European races as part of our team this year, getting to know the engineers he will work with this weekend and he has also spent time in our simulator.

“I am sure that all the fans in the grandstands will enjoy seeing a Japanese driver taking part in the Japanese Grand Prix weekend."

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