Sato answers BAR and Honda faith

Takuma Sato made a remarkable start to his BAR career after his last-minute call-up to the team when Jacques Villeneuve elected not to take part in the race. Sato qualified eleventh in today's first session, five places ahead of his team-mate Jenson Button.

Sato answers BAR and Honda faith

Sato's time was just 0.05s away from a place in the top ten, although he would have needed another half-second to get any further than tenth. Although there were a few things in his favour, he did his reputation no harm at all today.

"I lost a bit of time in the first sector but overall I was pleased with my performance and there's plenty of scope to improve," said Sato. "Today I wanted to take things steadily and establish myself with the people around me.

"To be honest I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am going to be racing here! I'm pleased that it has been a good first day."

"Takuma did a good job under pressure of his first attempt at one-lap qualifying," said Shuhei Nakamoto of Honda, who are said to have been instrumental in Sato's placement at BAR. "This is exactly what we would have expected, having worked closely with him over the past few years."

Sato is racing on his home track and knows the car well because he is the BAR test driver. The comparison with Button is also slightly slanted because the Briton lost most of his morning practice time with an engine failure.

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