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Sato Predicts Tough Start for BAR

Takuma Sato believes his BAR team will almost certainly have to wait until the middle of the season to score their maiden Grand Prix victory – after saying they are behind several of their rivals heading to this weekend's season opening race in Australia.

Takuma Sato believes his BAR team will almost certainly have to wait until the middle of the season to score their maiden Grand Prix victory â€" after saying they are behind several of their rivals heading to this weekend's season opening race in Australia.

Although Sato is convinced that the new BAR 007 is a step forward over last year's challenger, which helped the team grab second place in the Constructors' Championship behind Ferrari, the Japanese star believes that rivals Renault, McLaren and Ferrari will start the campaign in front.

Speaking to the Herald Sun in Melbourne, Sato said: "It is so difficult to see only winter testing times, but it looks like the Renault and McLaren are very fast. Ferrari will be again, very strong.

"It's going to be a pretty tough and difficult start. We should take this one as a big challenge and opportunity, because the ultimate goal for us is to win a race."

That target of a race victory has been outlined time and again by the team, after they missed out on that elusive win last year, but Sato thinks it may take some time for it to happen. Despite his pessimism about the team's current form, he is convinced they can develop their 007 to close in on the opposition.

"By the middle or end of the season I believe we can achieve what we want," he added. "2004 was a fantastic year for all of us (and) the new car is a significant step forward."

With Sato not predicting a BAR victory in Australia, he claims that Michael Schumacher will prove his doubters wrong and triumph despite a growing belief that the F2004M will not be quick enough.

"I think what he has done in the last few seasons is just unbelievable," he said. "Because of that he is the current champion and Ferrari is champion team. I should say they are still No. 1 at the moment.

"I really genuinely hope we are top-three finishers. But in terms of a realistic view, I almost cannot answer that question. From the testing times the Renault, McLaren and Ferrari will be very strong."

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