MARCH 29, 2016

F1 not as attractive today says Sato

Former driver Takuma Sato says that, amid the category's obvious challenges, he still loves F1.

Former driver Takuma Sato says that, amid the category's obvious challenges, he still loves F1.

The Japanese is now a mainstay of America's top open wheeler series Indycar, telling the Spanish daily Marca that he thinks F1 was better in his day.

"I do not see F1 as attractive as before," said the 39-year-old, who made his debut for Jordan in 2002 and raced until 2008 with Super Aguri.

"But I understand that today the economic situation and the sophisticated technology have changed things. The fans don't like them but I'm not totally against it because F1 is always a technological challenge that I love."

Sato, however, thinks Indycar boasts more "action on the track" than F1, because the cars are all similar.

"You can do a bad qualifying but still win the race because you can fight and overtake. In F1 this is much more complicated," he added.

"Yes, for the drivers it (Indycar) is more fun, more exciting, but also for the engineers because there are many details. Formula one is very sophisticated and aerodynamically very efficient, but in Indycar on the ovals, the car has to be perfect.

"The average speed is very high so we focus on engineering the car more precisely than in formula one. Physically it is very similar, at least compared to my time in F1.

"What is certain is that F1 is fast on the straights but the cornering forces are lower than in Indycar, and this is multiplied on the ovals. We are at 6G now and I've never seen that in F1. There, you take a bend but in two seconds it's over, but on an oval it never seems to end," said Sato.

Finally, as a former F1 disciple of Honda and still powered today by the Japanese carmaker, Sato was asked about McLaren and Fernando Alonso's situation.

"Technologically I do not know what is happening," he admitted, "but I still have contact with some of the guys I worked with at Honda and they tell me they are working hard.

"I am sure that Honda and McLaren will be strong eventually, you just have to wait a couple of seasons," Sato said. "Hopefully they will make great progress this year and surely they will become more competitive, especially next year," said Sato.

He admitted that the clash of cultures between Japan and the UK-based McLaren team would be a problem to overcome.

"For sure there is some kind of difficulty in this matter because they are different languages and cultures, but in the end what is best for both parties and the goal is the same.

"The English want to win races and so do the Japanese, they just have to take that time," said Sato.

He therefore advises Alonso to stay the course for now.

"Yes, he should. I'm sure he will be back -- it's what we all want to see," said Sato.