Takuma Sato Sumar
Takuma Sato's racing debut came in 1996, the 24-year-old Japanese driver saving the money to buy himself a KART before entering the Honda school the following year. From there he has been nurtured by the engine giant and landed a fully paid drive in the All Japan Formula three Championship in 1998. However, he opted to pass this opportunity by and made the move to Europe instead.
The Diamond Racing team became his home during that season where he contested
several Formula Vauxhall events before being promoted to Formula Opel. For the 1999 season he took sixth place in the Formula Opel Euroseries for his first full season of racing as well as participating in the last few rounds of the British F3 Championship. (Class B) Graduating to Carlin Motorsport and Class A in the 2000 championship, Takuma laid claim to no less than five victories to finish third overall. His first taste of an F1 car came later that year when he underwent tests for both BAR and Jordan Grand Prix, eventually signing a deal with BAR as their 2001 test driver.
He continued in F3 and took the title after winning 12 out of a possible 13 events, a very prestigious result. He also went on to win The Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort and the Macau event later in the year.
He made the step up into full time Formula One, signing a deal with Jordan to drive alongside Giancarlo Fisichella for the 2002 championship season. Sato ended the season with a fifth position at Suzuka. With strong backing from Honda, Takuma Sato spent 2003 as BAR Honda test driver before being called into action for the season finale in Japan to replace Jacques Villeneuve. Sato drove a solid race and a fine sixth position was his reward.
Returning to Formula One full time in 2004, Sato proved fast from the outset but his season was beset by poor reliability. While team-mate Button took race result after race result, Sato was not so fortunate. Eighth position in the championship was a reasonable result for Sato, his best result coming with a fine third position at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Heading to 2005 the pressure is now on Sato to raise his game still further and take the challenge to team-mate Jenson Button.
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