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Takuma Sato

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Biography

Takuma Sato (佐藤 琢磨, Satō Takuma?, born January 28, 1977 in Tokyo) is a Japanese Formula One automobile racing driver.

Unusually, Takuma (Taku) had very little racing experience in his native country. Although he began his karting career in Japan in 1996, Sato moved to England in 1998 to pursue a career in European racing. Through 1998 and 1999 he raced in Junior Formula races throughout the continent, moving to the British Formula 3 championship at the end of 1999. In 2000 and 2001 he pursued full seasons in British Formula 3, finishing third in 2000 and winning the championship in 2001, winning 16 races in the two years, plus international races at Spa-Francorchamps, Zandvoort, and Macau.

In 2003, Sato moved to British American Racing (BAR) as a test driver, but drove the final race of the season at Suzuka in place of Jacques Villeneuve and managed to finish sixth. In 2004 Sato drove full-time for BAR and regularly challenged for the top five positions, achieving the second-ever podium finish for a Japanese driver (after Aguri Suzuki at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix) by finishing third at the United States Grand Prix. He also achieved a commendable second place in qualifying for the European Grand Prix, behind only Michael Schumacher. His overall points tally suffered due to a series of mechanical problems, particularly with his Honda engine. The lack of engine failures experienced by his team mate, Jenson Button led to unfounded suggestions that Sato's driving style was a significant factor in causing the engine failures. Rumours in the paddock suggested that BAR were testing experimental parts on Sato's car; but these seem also to have been unfounded. Nevertheless Sato finished the 2004 season a respectable eighth (with 34 points), though there was a big difference from his teammate with 85 points, helping BAR to an impressive second place in the constructors' championship.Side-by-side with Jarno Trulli at the 2005 Canadian GP

After the 2005 season, Sato's reputation took a battering. Honda wanted to include him in the Honda team as the third driver (test driver), but he refused the offer and grabbed hold of a lifeline with the Super Aguri team. His expectations were very low and Sato had the chance to rebuild his career and gain more experience. Early 2006 races saw Taku comfortably outpace rookie teammate Yuji Ide, continuing the trend with Ide's successors; Franck Montagny and Sakon Yamamoto. Critics have also noted that there have been no signs of the erratic driving reputation which had previously blighted his career. Unfortunately, the previous reputation for erratic driving led to him being blamed for incidents in which he was innocent such as his tangle with Tiago Monteiro at the USGP, and the Chinese GP where Sato was caught up with Heidfeld leading to his disqualification. Sato went on with an impressive run to tenth at the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, ahead of his team-mate Yamamoto, Robert Doornbos' Red Bull, both Scuderia Toro Rossos and both MF1s.

Sato remained at Super Aguri and was joined by his new team mate Anthony Davidson who also was previously his team mate at Carlin Motorsport in the British F3 era. Sato started the 2007 season strongly, qualifying in tenth place for the championship-opening Australian Grand Prix. This represented the team's best-ever result in qualifying. He finished eighth in the Spanish Grand Prix, to record Super Aguri’s first ever world championship point.



 


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