Honda protege and GP2 racer Nobuharu Matsushita has joined McLaren as a test and development driver.
Matsushita won the Japanese F3 title in 2014 and was Stoffel Vandoorne’s team mate at ART last year. He will continue with the French team this season alongside his F1 commitments.
McLaren says that he will focus on simulator support and engineering work to underline the efforts of our race drivers.”
His promotion means that Honda will have a driver who is ready to graduate to F1 and who could one day be attached to a customer engine deal.
“Nobu’s first season racing in Europe showed great promise,” said team boss Eric Boullier. “He produced some extremely impressive performances, and with experience and consistency, will surely build on that potential in 2016. His position as a McLaren-Honda test and development driver will be extremely important – he’ll underline and corroborate the learning we acquire at the track, and will play a key role in improving our performance throughout 2016.”
“Last year’s GP2 Series season was a steep learning curve for me,” said Matsushita. “It was my first year racing in Europe – but, thankfully, my experiences with Honda’s young driver programme meant I was well prepared for the task ahead.
“As a GP2 Series driver, my sole focus for 2016 is to win the championship. I believe that I have the best package around me to succeed and reach my ultimate goal of becoming a Formula 1 driver.”