Takuma Sato Q&A

This time last year Takuma Sato was struggling to keep his reputation afloat after a difficult start to his first season with Jordan. He performed heroically in the finale at Suzuka but it was too little too late to save his drive. However, he has landed on his feet by returning to BAR as test driver, reprising a role he had in 2001. This time around it looks likely to lead to a fulltime drive as he is expected to replace Jacques Villeneuve next season, a move that will no doubt keep Honda happy. Adam Cooper spoke to the Japanese star.

Takuma Sato Q&A



"It's not disappointing, it's just frustrating. A different meaning, I would say. It's not a very good feeling when you are watching on TV as everyone is doing qualifying or practice, but saying that I could see a big opportunity to move here for the future. So it's heads down and keep up with your job. Before Malaysia I did a three-day test for the first time properly with this year's BAR, and I did over 1000kms over three days, which was great. And then after the race I went to Barcelona for a test and some promotion work. So it's a hectic schedule every week at the moment."



"It was a positive move overall. I still miss the Jordan team of course, they did a fantastic job towards the end for me, and we worked together very well. Even now I am very close to them. Obviously I'm not racing this year so it is a little bit frustrating, but I've never given up."



"Yes, it's made a huge difference I think. Suzuka was a fantastic race, and I really appreciated what the fans and team did."



"I don't think it would have helped a lot. It was the economy, and the financial structure of the team wasn't good. We had a lot of discussions after Suzuka for the next season, because I believed I could race with them, and they also believed they could hold me. But unfortunately things didn't turn in a good way, so I fully understood the team's problems. So we decided we had to go in our different ways."



"Yes, we had quite a few good offers, and obviously BAR Honda gave me one of the best offers, and I chose it because I could see a big opportunity."



"First of all you have to say that the BAR management structure is now completely different than when I was here in 2001, and I was impressed about this. It's more simplified and it's better. And secondly, technically it's better, because Geoff Willis has joined. His first car seems very promising. Before I signed the contract we didn't actually see the car, but we heard a lot of figures, and everybody was very positive and very enthusiastic, so we decided it would be better here. After the launch we did the shakedown test, and the car was immediately quick. It was much more stable than last year's car, and I could see the potential in the car."



"I think it's quite possible, but you never know. Obviously I've got a three-year contract, but a one-year test deal. I can't say anything further, but that says a lot! I expect to be racing here in 2004, but obviously before that I have to concentrate on how to help develop this year's car. That is my aim this year."



"I can see that Honda has got more commitment to F1. Everybody basically expects Honda to be very strong, because its second generation of F1 was so successful. But it had to do something more seriously this year, and I can see more Honda engineers even on the chassis development side in the BAR factory. Obviously we can see the results, that it's coming up."



"Yes, something like that. For example in Malaysia I had to go back to Europe after qualifying because of the test on Tuesday in Barcelona."



"It is hard, yes, as you can imagine! Especially the first time in Melbourne. But it's interesting because it's been quite a radical change regulation wise. Now F1 seems to undergoing a big change. From that point of view I'm very interested, and quite happy to just be behind the scenes, watching everything going on."


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