Sato Takuma Sato, 2002 Canadian Grand Prix Sato

Full Name: Takuma Sato
Nationality: Japanese
Born: 28 January 1977, Tokyo (JPN)

First GP: 2002 Australian Grand Prix
Last GP: 2008 Spanish Grand Prix

Entries: 95 Grands Prix: 90 Non-starts: 5
Wins: 0 Podiums: 1 Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0 Points: 44 Retirements: 31

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
1999 British Formula 3 (National Class), Diamond Racing, 4th overall 
2000 British Formula 3, Carlin Motorsport, 12 races, 4 wins, 4th overall
2001 British Formula 3, Carlin Motorsport, 25 races, 12 wins, 1st overall
  Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, Carlin Motorsport, 1st overall
  Zandvoort Formula 3 Masters, Carlin Motorsport, 1st overall
  Formula 1, British American Racing Honda 003, Test Driver
2002 Formula 1, Jordan Honda V10 EJ12, 17 races, 2 points, 15th overall
2003 Formula 1, BAR Honda V10 005, 1 race, 3 points, 18th overall
2004 Formula 1, BAR Honda V10 006, 18 races, 1 podium, 34 points, 8th overall
2005 Formula 1, BAR Honda V10 007, 17 entries, 16 races, 1 point, 23rd overall
2006 Formula 1, Super Aguri F1 Honda V8 SA05/SA06, 18 races, 0 points, Not Classified
2007 Formula 1, Super Aguri F1 Honda V8 SA07, 17 races, 4 points, 17th overall
2008 Formula 1, Super Aguri F1 Honda V8 SA08, 4 races, 0 points, Not Classified
2010 IndyCar Series, KV Racing Dallara Honda, 17 races, 21st overall
2011 IndyCar Series, KV Racing Dallara Honta, 17 races, 13th overall
2012 IndyCar Series, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara Honda, 15 races, 2 podiums, 14th overall
2013 IndyCar Series, AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara Honda

Takuma Sato


Tokyo-born Sato’s teenage ambition was to be a Tour de France cyclist, but at the relatively late age of 19, he got behind the wheel of a go-kart, and was immediately taken to it.

He won Suzuka’s Racing School scholarship the very next year, and he quickly secured backing from Honda, who continue to have an instrumental role in his career from that point on.

He moved to Europe and contested the Formula Vauxhall Junior championship, before jumping into British Formula 3. After running in Class B, he graduated to Class A, finishing third in the 2000 championship standings with the Carlin team.

He earned himself (courtesy of his connections with Honda) a test drive opportunity with the BAR F1 team, but it was decided that he should remain in Formula 3 for another season to keep his racecraft sharp.

Sato promptly rewarded them by dominating the 2001 season, winning the British title, the Marlboro Masters and Zandvoort and the Macau Grand Prix.

Not promoted to BAR’s frontline line-up, Sato jumped ship to Jordan (also running Honda engines). His year began in a wobbly fashion with several heavy crashes and he struggled to get to grips with his new machinery. With his stint in F1 threatening to be little more than a flash in the pan, Sato claimed a points’ finish on home soil at Suzuka to keep the doubters at bay.

It wasn’t enough to remain with the team for 2002, and so he joined BAR’s reserve line-up again, moving into the race team at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix after the team (rather predictability) decided to fire Jacques Villeneuve.

He finished in the points again, and stayed on with the team for the 2004 season, doing a good enough job – including claiming his sole podium finish, at the United States GP – to be retained for the 2005 season.

But the 2005 package was not as strong, and Sato’s wild driving returned in his quest to keep pace with Jenson Button.

Not surprisingly, he was dropped from the factory team’s line-up ahead of the 2006 season, but Honda decided to split its efforts into supporting Aguri Suzuki’s fledgling F1 effort, and a deal was quickly struck for the carmaker to supply the new team with its engines in exchange for a seat for ‘Taku’.

The de facto team leader for Super Aguri from the outset, Sato drove some outstanding races for the underfunded team, claiming points’ finishes at the 2007 Spanish and Canadian Grands Prix, before the team collapsed the following year.

Sato was without a drive, and when he was overlooked for the chance to join Lotus Racing in its debut season in 2009, he headed Stateside, where his Honda connections helped secure him a seat at the KV Racing IndyCar team.

A little rough around the edges in his first season, ‘Taku’ displayed a new-found maturity in his sophomore year, and claimed two pole positions.

A switch of teams to the Rahal Letterman Lanigan operation saw a more rounded Sato in 2012, but there were still those flashes of wildness despite netting two podium finishes. On the cusp of challenging for victory at the Indianapolis 500, he threw it all away trying to overtake leader Dario Franchitti on the final lap, crashing into the barriers.

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