Sato replaces Villeneuve at BAR

BAR-Honda has confirmed that Takuma Sato has been promoted from test driver to a race seat alongside Jenson Button in 2004. Team principal David Richards applauded outgoing driver Jacques Villeneuve's efforts but admitted it was "an appropriate time to refresh the driver line-up"

Sato replaces Villeneuve at BAR

Honda favourite Sato, who raced for Jordan in 2002, will replace Villeneuve in the Brackley-based team next year. His rookie F1 season was punctuated with crashes, most notably at the A1-Ring, but he is determined to set the record straight in 2004.

"Of course, I am extremely happy to be confirmed as race driver for BAR next year," said Sato. "This is what I have been working hard all year to achieve and now that the decision is made I am looking forward to proving myself again in the team next year.

"A year out of racing has been tough for me, but I am confident that the work we have done this year in testing has been extremely valuable in helping me and the team become a strong partnership. I have built good relationships with many people in the team this year and feel very positive that together we can be successful next season."

Richards said of the deal: "We welcome Takuma as Jenson's team-mate for 2004. He has done an excellent job for us in testing this year and has confirmed our long-held belief that he has enormous potential. Takuma is widely regarded as a very fast driver and he has had a meteoric rise to Formula 1.

"When he drove for Jordan in 2002 he had just four years' prior racing experience and during that first season we saw flashes of brilliance, which he underlined with an impressive performance in the Japanese Grand Prix last year. After a further year of testing with B·A·R in 2003, we firmly believe that he deserves the opportunity to translate his natural speed into consistent race performances."

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BAR Confirm Sato for 2004
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