|Drivers' champion||Naoki Yamamoto|
|Teams' champion||Vantelin Team TOM'S|
Formula Nippon evolved from the Japanese Formula 2000 series begun in 1973 by way of the Japanese Formula Two and Japanese Formula 3000 championships. For the most part, the Japanese racing series have closely followed their European counterparts in terms of technical regulations, but there have been some important exceptions.
In Japan, though touring and sports car racing was very popular through the 1960s, formula car racing was less so in those days. Even the Japanese Grand Prix lost its popularity after changing its format from touring/sports car racing to formula car racing in 1971.
In 1973, the Japan Automobile Federation (JAF) established the "All-Japan Formula 2000 Championship" as the first top-level formula racing series in Japan, to promote popularity of formula car racing in the country.
The series was created based on the European Formula Two Championship. But the JAF approved use of purpose built racing engines was different from the European F2 series which only allowed race engines based on mass production models. Due to this difference, the series did not fit in with the Formula Two regulations in those days. Therefore, the series was renamed "Formula 2000", not "Formula Two".
The revised Formula Two regulation in 1976 removed the restriction about engines which had limited the use of engines based on mass production models. With this change the reasoning behind the name "Formula 2000" disappeared. It led to the series being renamed the "All-Japan Formula Two Championship" from 1978.
When European Formula Two ended in 1984, its Japanese counterpart did not follow suit immediately. The JAF considered starting a new Formula Two series from 1988. However, all entrants ran Formula 3000 cars in 1987. So, the 1987 Formula Two Championship was cancelled due to no entry of any cars for that format.
Switching to the open Formula 3000 standard in 1987, the "All-Japan Formula 3000 Championship" started in 1988. Once again, Japanese and European regulations paralleled one another until 1996, when the International Formula 3000 series became a one-make format to lower costs.
In the late 1980s, Honda-powered Formula One teams began winning multiple championships, and the Japanese Grand Prix was reintroduced in 1987, resulting in an increased interest in formula racing. Combined with by the bubble economy, the Japanese Formula 3000 attracted several entrants and investors. It attracted many promising young drivers outside of Japan to compete in the series. Inevitably, the bubble burst led to the decline of the series.
In the mid-1990s, the Japanese Formula broke away, changing the form of the series to "Formula Nippon". The new Japan Race Promotion, formed by Fuji Television, became the promoter with the recognition of the series by the JAF as the Authority Sport Nationale (ASN) of Japan.
In the 2000s, sports car racing became more popular in Japan, and many Formula Nippon drivers doubled-up in the Japanese Super GT championship.
The 2006 season got off to one of the strangest starts in motorsport history. Because of heavy rain, the opener at Fuji was called off after two safety car laps, and Benoît Tréluyer was awarded the win with half points awarded.
Until 2002, Formula Nippon was an open formula, where a variety of chassis builders and engine manufacturers could compete. Chassis were supplied by Lola, Reynard, and G-Force, while Mugen-Honda supplied the vast majority of the engines (though Cosworth engines were found in the Formula 3000 era).
However, with the bankruptcy of Reynard in 2002, and the withdrawal of G-Force a year earlier, Formula Nippon once again followed F3000's lead in becoming a one-make series for the 2003 season. Formula Nippon cars were now all Lola B03/50 chassis powered by Mugen-Honda engines; however, unlike F3000, engines in Formula Nippon are open-tuned by private companies.
In 2006 Formula Nippon underwent a drastic revision of its regulations. A new Lola FN06 chassis was introduced, while the engine formula underwent drastic revision. Engine blocks were provided by Toyota and Honda, using the same engine block specifications as found in the 2005 Indy Racing League, with open-tuning still permitted.
American racecar manufacturer Swift Engineering produced the FN09 chassis that was used from 2009 through 2013.
The base chassis for the series is the Dallara SF19, which was unveiled at Suzuka Circuit in October 2017. The SF19 was regulated to weigh 670 kilograms (including driver), and is powered by two-litre single turbo-charged engines from Honda and Toyota. While sharing the same base architecture as the NRE engines used in Super GT GT500 cars, the engines are detuned relative to their GT counterparts. It features a 'push to pass' style overtake system which allows for additional 5 kg/h of fuel flow to be used when active - increasing power.
Comparable to a contemporary Formula One, the pole position lap in a Super-Formula Dallara SF14 at Suzuka Circuit in 2017, 1:35.907, is 8.588 seconds or 9.0% slower than the pole position time for the 2017 Japanese Formula One Grand Prix.
However, despite the more technically demanding regulations, the Japanese top-level formula series remains a national series, with second tier status compared to the FIA Formula 2 and its predecessor GP2. Foreign drivers have always been regular participants in the Japanese championships, and there have been several drivers to come from a Japanese Formula 3000 or Formula Nippon drive to a prominent Formula One role; the best-known of these are Eddie Irvine, Ralf Schumacher, the 1996 Formula Nippon champion, and Pedro de la Rosa, the 1997 Formula Nippon champion.
Starting in 2022, Honda Performance Development, the United States division of Honda's motorsport operations, will offer a "win and you're in" format where the 2021 Formula Regional Americas Championship series champion will be given a stipend for sponsorship towards a Super Formula ride with a Honda team. Similar "win and you're in" concepts are used in the North American single-seater ladder that includes a former Super Formula driver on the Honda factory INDYCAR operation where support series champions are awarded a funded drive in the next tier.
|Season||Series Name||Drivers' Champion||Team Champion|
|1973||All-Japan Formula 2000||Motoharu Kurosawa||Heros Racing||March 722||BMW M12/6||B||Not awarded|
|1974||All-Japan Formula 2000||Noritake Takahara||Takahara Racing||March 842||BMW M12/6||B|
|1975||All-Japan Formula 2000||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||Victory Circle Racing||March 742||BMW M12/6||B|
|1976||All-Japan Formula 2000||Noritake Takahara||Heros Racing||Nova 512||BMW M12/7||B|
|1977||All-Japan Formula 2000||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||Heros Racing||Nova 512B
|1978||All-Japan Formula Two||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||Heros Racing||Nova 532P
|1979||All-Japan Formula Two||Keiji Matsumoto||Team LeMans||March 782
|1980||All-Japan Formula Two||Masahiro Hasemi||Tomica Racing Team||March 802||BMW M12/7||B|
|1981||All-Japan Formula Two||Satoru Nakajima||i&i Racing||Ralt RH6/80
|1982||All-Japan Formula Two||Satoru Nakajima||Team Ikuzawa||March 812
|1983||All-Japan Formula Two||Geoff Lees||John Player Special Team Ikuzawa||Spirit 201
|1984||All-Japan Formula Two||Satoru Nakajima||Heros Racing||March 842||Honda RA264E||B|
|1985||All-Japan Formula Two||Satoru Nakajima||Heros Racing with Nakajima||March 85J||Honda RA264E
|1986||All-Japan Formula Two||Satoru Nakajima||Heros Racing with Nakajima||March 86J||Honda RA266E||B|
|1987||Japanese Formula 3000||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||Hoshino Racing||March 87B
|1988||All-Japan Formula 3000||Aguri Suzuki||Footwork Sports Racing Team||March 87B
|1989||All-Japan Formula 3000||Hitoshi Ogawa||Auto Beaurex Motor Sport||Lola T88/50
|1990||All-Japan Formula 3000||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||Cabin Racing Team with Impul||Lola T90/50||Mugen MF308||B|
|1991||All-Japan Formula 3000||Ukyo Katayama||Cabin Racing Team with Heros||Lola T90/50
|1992||All-Japan Formula 3000||Mauro Martini||Acom Evolution Team Nova||Lola T91/50
|1993||All-Japan Formula 3000||Kazuyoshi Hoshino||Nisseki Impul Racing Team||Lola T92/50||Cosworth DFV||B|
|1994||All-Japan Formula 3000||Marco Apicella||Dome||Dome F104||Mugen MF308||D|
|1995||All-Japan Formula 3000||Toshio Suzuki||Hoshino Racing||Lola T94/50||Mugen MF308||B|
|1996||Formula Nippon||Ralf Schumacher||X-Japan Racing Team LeMans||Reynard 96D||Mugen MF308||B||X-Japan Racing Team LeMans|
|1997||Formula Nippon||Pedro de la Rosa||Shionogi Team Nova||Lola T97/51||Mugen MF308||(B)||Shionogi Team Nova|
|1998||Formula Nippon||Satoshi Motoyama||LEMONed Racing Team LeMans||Reynard 97D||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||LEMONed Racing Team LeMans|
|1999||Formula Nippon||Tom Coronel||PIAA Nakajima Racing||Reynard 99L||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||PIAA Nakajima Racing|
|2000||Formula Nippon||Toranosuke Takagi||PIAA Nakajima Racing||Reynard 2KL||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||PIAA Nakajima Racing|
|2001||Formula Nippon||Satoshi Motoyama||Team Impul||Reynard 99L||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||Team 5Zigen|
|2002||Formula Nippon||Ralph Firman||PIAA Nakajima Racing||Reynard 01L||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||PIAA Nakajima Racing|
|2003||Formula Nippon||Satoshi Motoyama||Team Impul||(Lola B3/51)||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||Team Impul|
|2004||Formula Nippon||Richard Lyons||DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing||(Lola B3/51)||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||Team Impul|
|2005||Formula Nippon||Satoshi Motoyama||Mobilecast Team Impul
arting Racing Team with Impul
|(Lola B3/51)||(Mugen MF308)||(B)||Mobilecast Team Impul|
arting Racing Team with Impul
|2006||Formula Nippon||Benoît Tréluyer||Mobilecast Team Impul||(Lola B06/51 (FN06))||Toyota RV8J||(B)||Mobilecast Team Impul|
|2007||Formula Nippon||Tsugio Matsuda||Mobilecast Team Impul||(Lola B06/51 (FN06))||Toyota RV8J||(B)||Mobilecast Team Impul|
|2008||Formula Nippon||Tsugio Matsuda||Lawson Team Impul||(Lola B06/51 (FN06))||Toyota RV8J||(B)||Lawson Team Impul|
|2009||Formula Nippon||Loïc Duval||Nakajima Racing||(Swift 017.n (FN09))||Honda HR09E||(B)||Nakajima Racing|
|2010||Formula Nippon||João Paulo de Oliveira||Mobil 1 Team Impul||(Swift 017.n (FN09))||Toyota RV8K||(B)||Mobil 1 Team Impul|
|2011||Formula Nippon||André Lotterer||Petronas Team TOM'S||(Swift 017.n (FN09))||Toyota RV8K||(B)||Petronas Team TOM'S|
|2012||Formula Nippon||Kazuki Nakajima||Petronas Team TOM'S||(Swift 017.n (FN09))||Toyota RV8K||(B)||Docomo Team Dandelion Racing|
|2013||Super Formula||Naoki Yamamoto||Team Mugen||(Swift 017.n (SF13))||Honda HR12E||(B)||Petronas Team TOM'S|
|2014||Super Formula||Kazuki Nakajima||Petronas Team TOM'S||(Dallara SF14)||Toyota RI4A||(B)||Petronas Team TOM'S|
|2015||Super Formula||Hiroaki Ishiura||P.mu/cerumo?INGING||(Dallara SF14)||Toyota RI4A||(B)||Petronas Team TOM'S|
|2016||Super Formula||Yuji Kunimoto||P.mu/cerumo?INGING||(Dallara SF14)||Toyota RI4A||(Y)||P.mu/cerumo?INGING|
|2017||Super Formula||Hiroaki Ishiura||P.mu/cerumo?INGING||(Dallara SF14)||Toyota RI4A||(Y)||P.mu/cerumo?INGING|
|2018||Super Formula||Naoki Yamamoto||Team Mugen||(Dallara SF14)||Honda HR-417E||(Y)||Kond? Racing|
|2019||Super Formula||Nick Cassidy||Vantelin Team TOM'S||(Dallara SF19)||Toyota Biz-01F||(Y)||Docomo Team Dandelion Racing|
|2020||Super Formula||Naoki Yamamoto||Docomo Team Dandelion Racing||(Dallara SF19)||Honda HR-417E||(Y)||Vantelin Team TOM'S|
* The ( ) indicates the tyre (since 1997), chassis (since 2003), or engine (1998-2005) was a spec part that all competitors used for that season.