As the travel-weary Formula One circus rolls into the madding maelstrom of downtown Shanghai, there are still a few drivers who don't know what they'll be doing next year. Some are hopeful, some less so. Two such men are Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson, chaps for whom the well-worn cliche 'friends and rivals' could almost have been invented, so apt is it.
They first crossed swords, albeit as (team)mates, when in 2001 they washed up together at Trevor Carlin's well-run British Formula Three outfit. Optimistic, confident, talented, intelligent and ambitious, they were jetsam all the same. They had been thrown together, by circumstance.
The one (Taku) had been racing for only four years; the other (Ant) had been karting since he was in diapers. Together, they won almost everything that year. In the end, it was the elder of the two, Taku, drawing on his greater F3 experience, who became Champion; but Ant was also very impressive, especially in the second half of the season.
Now, and for a few years now, they're teammates again - and F1 teammates at that. Twelve months ago, Davidson's name was on not only British journalists' lips (that hasn't changed) but on others', too (that has, because F1 is fickle that way). He had parlayed his B.A.R-Honda 'Man Friday' status to perfection throughout 2004, trading fastest laps with Michael Schumacher every other weekend, and was regarded by many as 'the boy most likely to'. But, for whatever reason(s), it has never (yet) happened for him.