Sato can Expect Little Help from Toyota

Toyota say Japan's Takuma Sato cannot expect much help from them in his search for a Formula One drive for 2006

Sato can Expect Little Help from Toyota

Toyota-powered Jordan are interested in the Japanese driver, who has lost his seat at Honda-backed BAR, but Toyota motorsport president John Howett said the carmaker would not try to influence their decision.

"If they (Jordan) take him, it's purely their decision," he said at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Saturday. "I believe they are talking to him as one of their options but not influenced at all by us."

BAR, part-owned by Toyota's Honda rivals, have confirmed Briton Jenson Button will be staying to partner Brazilian Rubens Barrichello when he arrives from Ferrari - a decision that threatens to leave Japan without a driver next year.

Howett pointed out that Toyota had their own young driver programme, with promising Japanese drivers of their own in Kohei Hirate and Kamui Kobayashi in European Formula Three and Formula Renault respectively.

"I think that's where we are really looking to the future, to bring on those drivers in three or four years time into Formula One," said Howett.

Jordan team boss Colin Kolles told Reuters that his team, to be renamed Midland next year, were talking to Sato along with several others.

"He wants to stay in Formula One, we have a seat for him so we have to find a solution for that.

"It's not a question of money as far as what he has to bring," said Kolles. "It's the same with Anthony (Davidson), its a question of the sponsorship that the team will be putting in place for next year.

"If (tobacco sponsor) Benson and Hedges or Gallaher is putting actually the amount of money into the team that has been put in the past, then of course they would like, I think, to have a British driver in the team."

Davidson, the BAR reserve driver, tested for Jordan at Silverstone last week.

Kolles said Jordan had done no deals with any drivers for 2006 despite speculation that well-backed Dutchman Christijan Albers was close to securing his switch from Minardi.

The team's current line-up is Indian Narain Karthikeyan and Portugal's Tiago Monteiro.

"I think that we have good chances to get good drivers into the team," said Kolles. "We will see what will happen at the end of the day but I think we are in a good position at the moment."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Alan Baldwin
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