Oliver Rowland turned down an offer to race in Super Formula this year so he could focus on his World Endurance Campaign and Williams Formula 1 commitments in 2018. 

The Briton was due to begin his maiden season in sportscar racing at last weekend’s WEC opener in Spa but his Manor LMP1 squad was forced to withdraw due to financial issues. He had previously been weighing up a switch into the Japanese-based series for 2018 and drove a Super Formula car for the first time in a test at Suzuka in March. 

Rowland was only 16th quickest on his first Super Formula outing with the Team LeMans squad that took Mahindra Formula E driver Felix Rosenqvist to third in the drivers’ standings in 2017. 

He would have faced a clash in August with Super Formula’s Motegi round taking place on the same weekend as the 6 Hours of Silverstone, but Rowland explained he opted to prioritise WEC alongside his new role as Williams’ official young driver, which includes an appearance at the first F1 in-season test of 2018 following the upcoming Spanish Grand Prix. 

“One race clashed with LMP1 and in all honesty we weren’t ultra competitive,” Rowland told Crash.net. “To go and do something like that I only really want to do it if I had a good chance to win. 

“When you get to those sorts of categories like Super Formula and F2 it’s really important to have the whole package, you can’t drag something round that’s not good enough. I’m not saying that it wasn’t and it couldn’t have been but I did a one-day test and felt like I was pretty close to the limit. 

“I was faster than my teammate but a long-way from the top. We decided it was probably better not to do that, even though I wanted to. I still wanted to do it but i think it was better that I didn’t.”

Rowland revealed he also turned down offers to switch into Blancpain GT racing in order to focus on his Williams F1 role and his WEC campaign. 

“Manor was the main one for LMP1. I had some other offers to do other things such as Blancpain but in the end with my Williams role and the LMP1 side - the car is exciting and it’s a new championship for me so I decided to take that and nothing else and just focus on those two. I think I’ve made a good decision.”

But Rowland insists he remains interested in a foray into Super Formula and will re-assess his options heading into the 2019 season. 

“I really enjoyed the car and the atmosphere in Japan, everything. It’s still open and I definitely wouldn’t say no next time around if it worked a little bit better with the calendar and things like that. So we’ll see.”

 

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