Takuma Sato

Born in Tokyo, Sato's ambition in teenage years was to be a Tour de France bicycle racer but in 1996 he tried his hand at karting and liked it. The following year he won the Suzuka Racing School scholarship and with backing from Honda moved to Europe to race in Formula Vauxhall Junior with Diamond Racing. He then jumped straight into Class B of the British Formula 3 series, learning the ropes as he battled for the class title with Martin O'Connell. He then graduated into Class A with Carlin Motorsport and in 2000 was a contender for the title, finishing third in the series and at the end of the year being picked as a BAR test driver for 2001. It was decided that Sato would remain in F3 with Carlin and he dominated the championship, winning the British title, the Marlboro Masters event at Zandvoort and the Macau GP. He was signed by Jordan for 2002 as team mate to Giancarlo Fisichella. The season began rather shakily but as he found his feet in F1 he began to show stronger and stronger performances and finished the year with a triumphant points finish at Suzuka. Not long afterwards he was dropped by Jordan and so decided to move to BAR in 2003 to reclaim his old job as test driver.He was promoted to the race team in 2004 and did a good job and went into 2005 hoping for big results. This did not happen and at the end of the year Sato was dropped. Fortunately Honda decided to support a second team in F1 in 2006 and Sato became the team leader of the new Super Aguri F1 team. It was not an easy year but Sato drove well and was retained in 2007.