Grapevine: Sato Linked with Red Bull Junior

A wave of criticism from fans and media that Honda have been on the receiving end of since it became clear that Takuma Sato was out of BAR could act as a spur to make them try and secure the Japanese driver's Formula One future

Grapevine: Sato Linked with Red Bull Junior

That is the latest theory circulating around the paddock as the fall-out from the Jenson Button situation continues to reverberate.

The suggestion is that Honda's chiefs have not taken kindly to a feeling of resentment from their home fans and press about Sato's treatment - and the fact that their former golden boy is now in talks with the Toyota-powered Jordan team has further rung alarm bells in Tokyo.

One bizarre scenario that is now being talked about is of Honda making moves to land Sato a seat at the new Red Bull (Minardi) team next year, as a precursor to a future technical partnership with the energy drinks giant.

There is believed to be some reluctance within Red Bull to hand American Scott Speed a full-time race drive next year - and it is more likely that he will become the junior team's third driver. That would leave a vacant seat, which Sato would easily be able to slot into.

A technical tie-up between the engine manufacturer and team is not at all inconceivable, with Honda having been in talks with Red Bull earlier this year about an engine supply deal for their main team for 2006 before they eventually opted for Ferrari customer power-units.

A Honda deal would certainly give the Red Bull junior team stability for the future.

How far Honda are willing to push for such a deal remains to be seen, but with the company's chiefs reportedly receiving angry emails from Sato fans, and the Formula One circus about to arrive at Suzuka, which will be packed with Sato's supporters, action sooner rather than later would make sense.

In the meantime, Sato's management are still pushing hard to go it alone and secure their own deals. An approach to Williams is understood to have been made, while a deal at Jordan certainly makes sense for a lot of parties - and even Bernie Ecclestone is believed to want to make it happen.

The sport's commercial boss is in talks with Japanese television channel Fuji TV about a new contract - and the value of that deal will be dependent on whether the company can count on Sato's continued presence on the grid.

Such a financial incentive from Ecclestone could make him pull a few strings with Jordan's chief Colin Kolles - and their engine supplier Toyota, who would love for Ecclestone to add a race at Fuji onto the calendar and could be persuaded to ease Sato's move to the team.

All of this would act as yet another incentive for Honda to make sure that arch rivals Toyota do not come out of the Sato situation as the blue-eyed boys in Japan.

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