Takuma Sato will not be driving for Lotus next season, according to his management. The Japanese driver, who last raced in F1 with Super Aguri in the 2008 season before it collapsed, had been tipped as a possible candidate for a seat alongside Italy’s Jarno Trulli.
With Lotus having announced that its driver line-up will be revealed this afternoon, Trulli is hot favourite for one drive due to his previous working relationships with team Technical Director Mike Gascoyne – indeed, the former Toyota driver has already been reported as having struck a 3-year deal with the outfit.
Sato, on the other hand, had been listed as one of several contenders for the second seat, with ex-McLaren man Heikki Kovalainen being listed alongside Anthony Davidson, Kamui Kobayashi, Jacques Villeneuve and Fairuz Fauzy.
"We know Taku has not got Lotus, we found out yesterday," Mathew Winter, Commercial Manager for Sato, explained to Reuters. "He has now come off the list."
After testing for Toro Rosso last season, the former Minardi outfit eventually elected to run Sébastien Buemi alongside Sébastien Bourdais, who was later replaced by Jaime Alguersuari. Winter admits that the Lotus decision is a surprising one.
"We don’t know what the criteria was," he continued, recognising the team’s Malaysian ownership. "We haven’t given up. There’s still a few seats open and we’re trying to hunt them down but his options are running out, so we don’t know if he’s going to be in Formula 1 next year."
Winter also acknowledged the team’s Malaysian heritage and played the race card with a horrible choice of words: "We thought he was a very strong contender – you don’t get more Asian than Taku."
Really, Mr Winter?
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