Matsushita to test with Sauber F1 team

Nobuharu Matsushita

Honda protege Nobuharu Matsushita will have his first experience of driving a Formula One car when he tests with Sauber in Hungary next week, the Swiss-based team said on Monday.

The 23-year-old Japanese is currently a test and development driver with Honda-powered McLaren, focussing on work in the simulator.

Matsushita also competes in the Formula Two support series for the ART team, which is run by newly-appointed Sauber principal Frederic Vasseur.

“I am pleased that Nobuharu has this great opportunity. He deserves the experience of his first test in a Formula One car,” said the Frenchman Vasseur in a team statement.

“Ever since his debut in Formula Two with ART Grand Prix, I have been following his progress closely, and have watched him advance his performance from year to year.

“With this Formula One test, he comes one step closer to his dream of becoming an F1 driver one day.”

Sauber are due to switch to Honda power next season, although that deal has been thrown into doubt by recent management changes at the team and reports that no final contract was signed.

The two organisations are reportedly renegotiating the deal, while it is not a given that the Swiss team’s new owners will favour a move to Honda power units which have proven to be uncometitive and unreliable.