Does Takuma Sato Deserve Another Drive In Formula One?

Does Takuma Sato Deserve Another Drive In Formula One?

Following the withdrawal of Super Aguri from the Formula One championship, two drivers are now faced with unemployment; Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson. The British half of the folded team has been a long-time tester for Honda and his reward for his efforts were a full-time drive for Aguri in 2006 and 2007. Takuma Sato also had strong links with the Japanese car manufacturer, the team essentially being built to extend his career. But has Sato done enough to get a drive elsewhere?

Sato had entered Formula One with lots of promise, initially getting a drive with the now rebranded Jordan outfit back in 2002. Takuma quickly developed a reputation for throwing the car off the road, but a second chance with BAR Honda in 2004 emphasised the team’s faith in him. That and the marketing dream of running a Japanese driver in a predominantly Japanese team.

When Honda decided to sign experienced driver Rubens Barrichello for 2006 though, the fans were quick to criticise Honda and thus the B-Team was founded by popular ex-Formula One pilot Aguri Suzuki. In essence, the team came to being in order to help Sato and keep the peace with the passionate Asian fans.

In his time at Super Aguri, Sato did quite well with the under-performing car, 2007 being the team’s most competitive season in their short history. Takuma Sato scored all the team’s points that year, claiming one in Spain and three in Canada. The Tokyo-born driver has also enjoyed relative success with the much better funded BAR Honda team, earning 34 points in 2004. However, in comparison to his team mate that year, the points he accrued pale somewhat. Jenson Button scored 85 during the ’04 campaign, including 10 visits to podium, 9 more than Sato.

On a good day, Sato can be a quick, competitive and tenacious racer. His move on then-reigning champion Fernando Alonso in Canada last year was not a stand-out pass, but in the circumstances it was bold and poignant. However, on other days Sato can be ragged, unpolished and look like a rookie. There have been unfounded suggestions that Sato’s driving style led to a lot of engine failures while he was at Honda and many people have questioned his ability over the years.

There have been rumours circulating around the paddocks at recent races that Sato maybe lining himself up to replace Nelson Piquet Jr. at Renault. The Brazilian rookie has endured a disastrous start to his career with the Enstone-based team, and Renault chiefs have been openly critical, although also supportive of their driver’s efforts. To be honest I feel there is little chance of Takuma getting a race seat this year; Renault aside the teams look fairly stable on the driver front.

However, Sato was in Monaco last weekend to let people know that he wasn’t ready to retire and has been trying to get his foot in some team doors. Stating that he doesn’t want to retire and that he’s received offers from outside of Formula One, Sato also admitted that he’s had no firm proposals from the current grid of squads.

I do not want to retire but at the moment I do not know in what way I will be coming back. Takuma Sato.

So, what do we think of Takuma Sato? Has he become Formula One’s latest reject, or can he bounce back from the sidelines?

Image © HondaF1.


  • He had a chance for Jordan.

    He had a chance for BAR.

    And he had a chance for Super Aguri.

    Most people don’t get one chance, never mind three. He’s a new Antonio Pizzonia as far as I’m concerned.

    He may be good entertainment value, but in terms of talent I don’t think he’s done enough to justify his place in F1.

  • I, on the other hand, think that the entertainment value *is* sufficient to justify him a place in F1

  • Takuma did a good job of leading Super Aguri and if he was given the chance to lead another small F1 team, it would bring out the best in him again. Whether there is a chance of that happening is another matter entirely…

  • Sato has proven quality and raw pace as a racing driver, he has made errors in the past which are magnified usually because the points he looses from those mistakes are needed more so in the smaller teams.

    On the subject of Piquet, he really needs a team that is willing to let him grow as a F1 driver, Renault are not going to see results out of anyone other than Alonso because of there teams management.

  • Certainly Sato had a reputation as a car breaker, but I think over the last couple of years he settled down a lot and matured as a driver – its just that it wasn’t matched by a competitive car so that we could see what he is actually capable of.

    But he impressed me far more at SA than he ever did at Jordan or Honda.

    I’d like to see Taku back again, he does have potential as well as a great personality. Plus he is so enthusiastic. Just what F1 needs !

  • I’d like to see him take Piquet’s spot, I think he improved a whole lot at Super Aguri and it would be fun to see what he can do with a decent car.

  • One point that is not highlighted up there is BAR Honda car was always designed to suit Smooth Driving style of Button and Sato had perennial troubles with coping up with it . To his credit he didn’t go about bitching of this to press. Infact BAR and current Honda team management is based on one principle British Management fleecing resources of Japanese Car Manufacturer :-).

    Paddock Insiders have already started talking of Barichello left on curbside end of 2008 and Ant taking his spot. That will have a Japanese team on grid with Brit Management, Brit Drivers and even Brit Test drivers 🙂

    Point to be noted – When Spice Group ( that currently runs Indian A1GP operations) showed interest in Buying stakes in ailing Super Aguri. Nick Fry had gone on records to quote they won’t entertain the bid as Narain Karthikeyan is not upto the standards of Management expectation.

    So to summarize its all about politics and how you negotiate your way around to prolong your career in F1

  • I’ll put a few quids on a seat with Renault sooner than later… say after the Canadian GP is Piquet is still nowhere on the grid…and nowhere on the finish line.

    As you all known Renault owns Nissan a japanese car maker… or more precisely the japanese subsidiary of a french 😉 car manufacter… the Enstone based but nvertheless french 😉 team might well use a Japanese driver to please their japanese market… and Sato is available lmmediately

    Et voila !

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