DRIVERS: TORANOSUKE TAKAGI

Name: Toranosuke Takagi
Nationality: Japan
Date of birth: February 12, 1972 - Shizuola, Japan

Those who have watched Japanese drivers carefully over the years believe that Toranosuke Takaga - 'Tora' - was the best Oriental ever to try his hand at F1.

He was the protege of past F1 racer Satoru Nakajima, who retained his close links with Ken Tyrrell and had suggested his charge to the team proprietor in 1997.

Takagi had sped through karting and Formula Toyota, then burst into TOM's F3 team in 1993 when he was only 18, to replace Jacques Villeneuve. Nakajima snapped him up for F3000 a year later, and he proved a pacesetter though not a regular winner.

His days with Tyrrell in 1998, and with Arrows in 1999, were hampered initially by the need to learn new circuits everywhere he went while acclimatizing to a totally different culture, and then by the latter team's lack of budget. He often impressed with his speed - Sauber was at one stage interested in employing him for 1999 - but he struggled to stay on the track at times, and his race performances were frequently inconsistent. There was little that some solid guidance might not have ironed out in an Occidental driver, but for Takagi it was all just too difficult, and sadly he returned to Formula Nippon in 2000, his F1 promise unfulfilled. In 2001 he moved to the CART series in America and in 2003 switched to the Indy Racing League.

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