Sato Earns Richards' Praises

BAR-Honda team principal David Richards praised Japanese driver Takuma Sato after his strong performance at his home Grand Prix.

Sato Earns Richards' Praises

BAR-Honda team principal David Richards praised Japanese driver Takuma Sato after his strong performance at his home Grand Prix.

Sato, who was the team's test driver this season, stepped up to the race team in Suzuka after Canadian Jacques Villeneuve decided he would not take part in the race having been dropped by the team for next year. He proved fast but erratic in his debut season with Jordan last year but followed up his fifth place at Suzuka last year with a similarly impressive performance this time around.

"Taku didn't put a foot wrong," said a delighted Richards. "We had discussions on the radio for him to pick up the pace when we saw him dropping off a little bit and he picked it up to exactly the time we asked him to. Towards the end telling him to take it down a little bit, and (race engineer) Jock Clear was there absolutely marvelling at him.

"He really couldn't believe the race the guy was driving."

The team were looking for a strong performance in their engine partner's home race as they fought with Sauber and Jaguar for fifth place in the Constructors' Championship. They needed just two points from the final race of the season to leapfrog rivals Sauber and Jenson Button's five points for fourth place coupled with Sato's three for sixth ensured their position.

"The way it panned out it was almost like a fairy tale unfolding in front of you," said Richards. "Everything unfolded absolutely to plan - the strategy was impeccable and the drivers drove perfectly. I think the team rallied round very well and if you sense the atmosphere you'll see that the team looked at it in an extraordinarily positive light as an opportunity to show that it is not a team built around one individual.

"I think the new start is now very clear for everybody and anyone who questioned the ability of our new driver line-up or the potential of all the ingredients we've got, those questions have been dispelled."

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