TEAM NEWS: Q&A with Super Aguri F1 driver and 2001 BF3 Champion Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato is one of five current F1 drivers who have driven for Carlin Motorsport. Sato has been one of the key drivers in Carlin’s history, taking the team’s first championship in British F3 in 2001. Sato took advantage of a recent break in the Formula One race calendar to revisit his old team at its Hampshire headquarters and was reunited with his Macau Grand Prix winning car.
Q. Is it nice to be back at Carlin?
TS. It’s great to be back to see the team and Trevor. When I raced for Carlin they were over in a little unit and now they have grown to expand into this big office and buy another factory as well. It’s good to see how they’ve grown, but also how successful they still are. When I raced for Carlin they were still a small team really. With my car here and all the trophies, it’s got a real F3 atmosphere about it. It’s great to see. There’s a little break in the F1 schedule and my family and I are over in England, so I just wanted to come and say hello. Trevor and I have bumped into each other in the F1 paddock, but obviously its difficult to really catch up and talk as we were both busy with our own things, so it’s nice to have the time now.
Q. You’ve brought your family and your son to Carlin. Does it feel like you’re visiting an old family?
TS. Yes, I feel very proud when I look at the success of the team. They are very successful in the junior levels of motorsport and that’s important. It’s important to have a team like Carlin Motorsport being successful at lower levels; it gives young drivers the chance to follow the path that I did. Obviously it’s hard to watch everything in detail because I’m busy a lot of the time, but I do check to see how Carlin are getting on in the different championships and its great to see them at the top.
Q. Do you think your time at Carlin was important in your career and helped you make the move into F1?
TS. Certainly the team was very instrumental. When I first came to the UK I barely spoke any English and the team really helped me with that. And the experience I had working with the team and the engineers and the success we had meant that by the end of 2001, I was ready to make the move into F1.
Q. What’s it like being back with your old Carlin team mate Anthony Davidson at Super Aguri?
TS. It’s really weird! It nice to have him as a team mate though and I’m really glad that he made it into the team. We get on very well, as we did in 2001. It’s a nice relationship.
Q. You beat Anthony in 2001, do you think that makes him even more determined to beat you in F1?
TS. Of course! He’s desperate to beat me! Team mates always want to beat each other, but it’s a nice relationship that we have, we get on well. It feels a bit like our time at Carlin together, just in slightly different environment!