Juju Noda has a lot of pressure riding on her young shoulders.
The Japanese star – who turned 14 last month – has received a lot of international attention over the past few years as a result of driving various single-seaters in her home country despite her young age.
By the age of nine she had already tested F4 cars, holds the F4 lap record at the Okayama International Circuit, drove a Formula 3 car at the age of 12, and competed in a Japanese category called Formula U17, which uses F3-spec cars, when she was 13. Bear in mind, Max Verstappen was 16 when he first drove an open-wheel car.
Unable to progress any further in Japan until she is 16 due to minimum age restrictions, Noda has moved to Europe for the 2020 season, where she will be competing in Danish F4, and was kind enough to speak to us for International Women’s Day here at The Pit Crew Online.
Jenny Rowan: How would you reflect on your 2019 season?
Juju Noda: It was a very good season. I managed to drive F3 hard and I even managed to break lap the lap record of F3N Class (Dallara F312 with Volkswagen Cox engine) at Okayama International Circuit. I also won all four races of the season.
JR: There has been a lot of hype surrounding you and your career – how do you feel about the attention you’ve been getting and how do you deal with it?
JN: I think it is something necessary if you want to be competitive and professional. If you cannot deal with it, that means you are not good enough. To be honest, sometimes it is a bit hard to handle but I always do my best.
JR: Do you see your age as an advantage or a disadvantage when it comes to competing against drivers who are potentially several years older than you?
JN: In the future it will be an advantage but right now it is not. Instead, there are many limitations regarding what to drive and where to drive and it is a bit inconvenient.
JR: Have you already tested the car you’ll be driving in Danish F4 and, if so, how did it feel?
JN: Yes, I drove it in Spain in January and February. The car is quite heavy and not very forgiving but I must get along with it if we want to be competitive. I feel like I want to be friends with it and get along well!
JR: What ambitions do you have for the 2020 season?
JN: I want to learn and enjoy the season as much as possible. Hopefully towards the second half of the season I can be competitive. But I don’t want to be impatient.
JR: What are your ambitions more widely regarding your career?
JN: I want to be one of the best drivers in the world and reach places like Formula 1, Formula E, Le Mans, IndyCar or NASCAR. I will do my best to succeed!
Featured image courtesy of Sergi Garcia”