It is now a year and a half since Takuma Sato dropped out of Formula 1 along with the Super Aguri team.
He missed out on a Toro Rosso seat despite a string of winter tests, and has since been linked with an IndyCar drive. But as Sato told AUTOSPORT, he remains totally focused on getting back into F1 at the moment and sees anything else as a last resort.
Q. How have you been?
Takuma Sato: I'm well, physically well, training a lot to be ready at any time. I brought my helmet to Suzuka. It's nice to have time with the family, but I'm missing racing so much. I nearly got there are the beginning of the season, of course, and because the decision was so late everything was closed at that time. And I'm still desperately trying to find the way back in F1 or any other high level of motor racing that I can achieve. That's the main objective.
Q. How is it looking for next year?
TS: We are just communicating. As you know now in F1, in business and everything, it's quite difficult to predict. Of course new teams are coming, which is a great opportunity for me, and of course the current teams too. So we are just communicating with everybody really and trying to find any possibility, not only for F1.
I have to have some kind of option for next year because one and a half years out of racing is just too long and to me it's the limit. If it was only half season then concentrating on F1 is fine. That was the case last year: we did the winter testing and it went perfectly and it didn't happen. That was a very unfortunate moment but I will never give up. I'm just attacking every single door and if that opens the doors for next year I will be very, very happy.
Q. You went to Motegi to have a look at the IndyCar Series?
TS: Yeah. I went to the Indy 500 too and there is some opportunity but I always want to be at the highest level and that's the objective. To me, F1 is an unfinished job so I want to get back in and just to have a competitive package to drive, because now I have the experience, I have the speed. I really hope I can do it. This weekend for me was painful. To come to Suzuka, where I have a lot of memories, but not racing is not an easy moment. But I've been out of the paddock a bit too long and I feel I need to speak with all the mates and all the people who have influence.
Q. The passion is still there for F1?
TS: Absolutely, 100 per cent. F1 is in my heart because that's where I've been. But as I said it's not something you can decide by yourself. There are lots of factors involved. If things don't go as we would like for next year then in that case I have to look at other options, but now is the time you really need to push hard, and if it does not happen you have to go on. Until then, until the doors are 100 per cent closed, I'm going to be pushing on those doors.
Q. Do you think having experience is going to help your chances?
TS: For sure. Experience in recent F1 is definitely a help. That's why I could see there is some opportunity for me.
Q. What do you feel about Brawn's success this year, since you were a part of the team before?
TS: They obviously did an impressive job, in terms of having such a short preparation in winter testing and then go to racing with such reliability and speed. The speed part we kind of knew, because it has been developing for so long, since the Super Aguri days. That's good for the Honda people to see the satisfaction that the car was genuinely a championship car. That's a good thing. It's a shame they are no longer involved, but as a a team they did a fantastic job.
Q. Do you think Honda can take pride at seeing Brawn win rather than regret quitting?
TS: I think they can take pride. That's the kind of company Honda is always, that's what I'd like to believe. So did we as Super Aguri, a lot of very important designers and engineers were already integrated into that team, and we helped each other to develop the car - especially for the 2009 regulations. And that was a huge success. So from that point of view we did the right things, it's just a shame we're not here.
Q. You worked with Jenson Button, what do you make of his performance this season?
TS: When given stronger equipment, nobody had a doubt about his ability before. In 2004 we were competitive, we were showing the speed. One of his strengths was his consistency, and he's certainly showing it.
Q. What was he like as a team-mate, a tough challenge?
TS: A team-mate can obviously be a good rival, but also you need to want to build up the team together, so you have to share everything. From that point of view we had a good time and I had absolutely no problems with him.
Q. If you can't race in F1, what do you want to do?
TS: Obviously I don't want to think too much about that, but America is one of the big options for me to move on, but until everything is closed [in F1] I just don't want to say the things I want to do [outside of F1].