MARCH 3, 2002
Sato's disastrous Saturday
TAKUMA SATO's first grand prix weekend has started disastrously, but the Japanese rookie will be given the chance to change his luck on Sunday. Race stewards decided on Saturday to allow Sato, who did not meet qualifying standards for the race, to start from the back of the grid on Sunday.
Sato's Saturday began to go downhill when he crashed his Jordan EJ12 late in the morning free practice, not leaving time to repair the car in time for qualifying. The day got worse when, on his first qualifying lap, the T-car had gearbox problems, leaving it undrivable. The skies opened up and drenched the track, making it impossible for the rookie to post a lap within 107% Rubens Barrichello's pole time of 1:25.843, as is required by the FIA to start the race. Sato did go out in the rain in teammate Giancarlo Fisichella's car during the last ten minutes of the session, but could only manage a 1:53.351 because of the wet conditions, 132% of Barrichello's time.
Eddie Jordan's team immediately issued a request to the race stewards asking them to allow Sato to start Sunday's race, citing "exceptional circumstances", and the stewards agreed, taking into account his fastest lap in Saturday's free practice was 1:30.914, around 106% of pole.
After the steward's decision was handed down, a relieved Takuma Sato said, "it all seemed to happen to me today but I suppose that means I will learn quicker."
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