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Takagi gives up Formula 1

THERE will be no Japanese drivers in Formula 1 in 2000 following the decision by Tora Takagi to race in the Formula Nippon championship this year. Takagi hopes that success in Japan will enable him to relaunch his F1 career after two unsuccessful seasons with Tyrrell in 1998 and Arrows in 1999. It will be the first time since 1986 that Japan will be without a Grand Prix driver but this is not expected to last for long with the reviving interest in the sport in Japan as a result of the increased involvement of Honda and the forthcoming Toyota F1 team.

The 25-year-old from Shizuoka has been racing since he was 12 and in recent years has been a protege of Satoru Nakajima. He finished runner-up to Ralf Schumacher in Formula Nippon in 1996 before becoming the Tyrrell test driver in 1997. Nakajima's close relationship with the deposed Honda boss Nobuhiko Kawamoto meant that Takagi was not backed by Honda for a drive with BAR and the move back to Japan suggests that Takagi is hoping that success at home will bring him to the attention of Toyota bosses so that he can land a drive with the planned Toyota F1 team.

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