Q & A with Takuma Sato
|By Pablo Elizalde||Tuesday, May 27th 2008, 09:30 GMT|
Takuma Sato was left heartbroken and without a racing seat following the demise of the Super Aguri team.
The Japanese driver admitted that even the sound of the racing cars running near his home at Monaco made him sad.
But Sato is determined to fight back and find a way to return to F1.
Autosport.com heard from Sato during his visit to the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend.
Takuma Sato: "There is no specific announcement today but since the Spanish GP I have been out of sight so I thought it may be an opportunity to meet again, but since I have no pass any more it was made possible by Bridgestone.
"I am ok, but of course I am disappointed that I can not race here. For two and a half years I had been with the team, right from the beginning and it is pure sadness I feel now. However I would like to let you know I am not intending to retire, but in what form I can come back in I do not know yet."
Q. What have you been doing since the demise? Where have you been?
TS: "After Barcelona, I was talking to Aguri san on a regular basis and through my manager Aguri san contacted me on Monday to say that there would be a conference (in Tokyo) where he would announce that he would stop the racing operation. Until then I did as much as I could to help.
"I am sure it had been really hard for Aguri san, and I really felt the hardship he had been going through so I did not have any words to say to him. I just had to accept the decision, I could not even ask why at that stage, that would not have helped anything.
"During the weekend Turkey, I came home to Monaco but the historic cars event was on in Monaco so the whole place was live with it, and it reminded me too much of racing so I decided to stay with some friends for joint birthday parties for the kids in Nice. Until now so I have just been spending time with my family.
"At that point the harsh reality had not hit me that I am not racing any longer, and really it was only when I heard the cars that it hit me."
Q. What did you discuss with [Honda's operating officer Hiroshi] Oshima san? Anything specific about the future?
TS: "That was the reason I went there. No plan as yet. It is a blank sheet of paper. I did feel they would like to be associated with me but that does not necessarily relate to their F1 project. I have my own ideas and before I went over to see him (Oshima) I did already tell him of my feelings but I wanted to see him in person.
"I believe I can bring out my best performance. I proved what I could do with Aguri. I am still competitive so I am looking for a way to come back to F1."
Q. Any contacts from anyone else so far?
TS: "For the past two years I have been putting everything into Aguri, so nothing from F1 but contacts have been made. There has been quite a few offers from non-F1 categories, but like I said, I would like to concentrate on F1. My manager will take care of it. I have been working with Honda for some time and O would like to continue."
Q. How soon are we talking about? This year? 2009?
TS: "If there is an opportunity I want to race now! But I am not that desperate to race at any cost this season. If there is a chance I would like to, but if 2009 is better opportunity I will wait. I would not like to rush out to make a hasty decision. I would like a proper opportunity, and if testing is required (for 2009) then I am prepared to test."
Q. There have been rumours linking you with Renault? Any truth in that?
TS: "As a driver I do welcome such rumours. I think this time last year I was going to replace Ralf in Toyota. When I am ready I will let you know."
Q. What is the criteria for your return to the F1 cockpit?
TS: "Personally I would like to use the experience. The Aguri team was about to jump into the next level and at least I would like to be in a position where I can get some points. If my desire can coincide with the team's desire that will be great, but at the moment, there is nothing concrete."
Q. Aguri was very tearful and emotional in the Tokyo conference...
TS: "Yes, I have been told. Aguri san by nature is a cheerful guy, with a dry sense of humour and I am sure that is how he has behaved with you for all these years.
"But the nature of the conference in Tokyo was quite serious. I think he did try his best not to show his emotions but as a member of the team I know how hard it had been so I do feel how he must have felt, so I have no words to say to him. I really don't know what to say.
"About 100 of us joined him in his dream to start a team, and if I think about every member of the team, one by one, my emotions are really overwhelmed. It is not only a matter of racing or not.
"Yes, I am unhappy that I can't race, but looking at an even bigger picture, I think about all these people losing their precious job, and their means to live... and I do feel that if I was the one who had decided to retire it would be a different story but it is not.... These people who once shared the dream together are left in the lurch and that I cannot do much about it. It does really hurt."
Q. Should there be an offer to test for Honda, would you take it?
TS: "It depends on the conditions, it is not my target to test. If there is a possibility to get a regular drive then I will be prepared to test. It is how I feel at the moment."
Q. Are you more motivated than before?
TS: "It cannot go any higher. My motivation was high enough already. I don't know how to express it. When I saw (the announcement), it was not exactly the sadness, I got more frustrated. But is it not the frustration I experienced being the last one on the grid. It was not a pleasant sensation."