Ok Ladie and Germs, it’s High time for the Closing Ceremonies on this overly long, drawn out No fenders expose on recent Japanese Formula 1 Drivers! And in the final assessment of Japan’s Medals, Err F1 Drivers count, out of a total of six contestants, the results are finally in, tuh duh…
Although these three Overall Medallion choices are somewhat influenced Sentimentally, I believe Thar ratings are buoyed by their Overall achievements on the International Stage and relative overall competition.
Taking the Gold medal is none other than Takuma Sato, based on the fact of not only being the only Japanese Driver to win an IndyCar race, but Defeat Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon respectively en route to becoming the only Japanese Driver to ever win the Indianapolis 500, not once, but twice!
Kamui Kobayashi claims the Silver medal based upon his winning the Rolex 24 twice, which I’d argue was a bigger accomplishment than our Bronze medal winner Kazuki Nakajima’s three-peat at Circuit de la Sarthe, especially since it was just an Intra-team toy-Yoter’ Scrum, and I’m still not completely convinced the team didn’t ensure that Nakajima’s most esteemed team-mate Fredrico Suave, aka Fred Alonso won at Le Mans due to the publicity it would garner…
Birthplace: Tokyo, Japan
DOB: 1/28/77, Age 44
Teams: Jordan, BAR, Super Aguri (2002-2008)
First Race: 2002 Australian Grand Prix
Last Race: 2008 Spanish Grand Prix
Teams: KVRT, A.J. Foyt Racing , Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Andretti Autosport, RLLR (2010-Present)
First Race: 2010 Sao Paolo Indy 300
Two Time Indianapolis 500 Winner (2017, 2020)
6 wins/14 Podiums/10 Poles
Takuma Sato began racing go Karts at Age 19 and won the National Karting championship in 1997. The following year he made his “Cars” debut in Bloody ‘Ol England with Honda’s backing in the Vauxhall Junior and Formula Opel Single Seater categories before graduating to the “Junior” British F3 Championship.
For 2000 Taku-san joined Carlin and scored four wins en route to third in the Championship. Remaining with Carlin a second year, Sato Dominated the Formula 3 championship, scoring 12 wins in 13 rounds to claim the ’01 British F3 title.
For 2002 Takuma joined the “Plucky” Irishman EJ’s Jordan Grand Prix with Mugen Honda V-10 engines, and although Sato had an up ‘N down season, complete with some “sketchy” driving, Sato did reward Eddie Jordan by scoring a fine fifth place finish at his Home race in Japan. As I can still vaguely recall rooting for him at Suzuka when scoring his first Formula 1 points.
In 2003 Taku moved to Lucky Strike BAR Honda, first as a Test driver before making his BAR debut appropriately at his Home race at Suzuka, replacing the fading Jacques Villeneuve. And although Sato’s best career finish in Formula 1 would occur the following year at the USGP at Indianapolis, where he claimed his lone podium with a fine third place finish. For Mwah, I’ll never forget the immense appreciation his Home Fans gave him at Suzuka that day in ’03. Since everywhere Claudio’ and I went that weekend, their was just simply a Sea of Japanese Fans adorned with Lucky Strike BAR Baseball Caps!
And whilst the ’04 season was Sato’s best, not only scoring that third place finish at Mother Speedway, becoming only the second Japanese Driver to stand on a Formula 1 Podium, following Aguri Suzuki doing so Wayback in 1990, appropriately at the Japanese Grand Prix. As Takuma finished eighth Overall, the best career finish for a Japanese Driver in Formula 1, with his results helping BAR finish runner-up to Ferrari in the Constructors standings.
In a case of “Ying & Yang,” Obviously the 2005 season at BAR Honda was a massive Disappointment, capped by the Disgrace of the team being “Disqualified from the San Marino Grand Prix and “Barred” from the following two races after having been caught with Underweight cars when the Fuel Tanks were drained under Sporting Director Gil De Ferran’s watch. As Taku was only able to finish in the points once afterwards at Hungary with an 8th place finish and was dropped from the team at season’s end.
Yet there was such a feverish Uproar in Japan over Sato’s dismissal from BAR Honda and Formula 1 in general after having been replaced by Rubens Barrichello, that Honda coaxed Aguri Suzuki into running a second Honda F1 Team called Super Aguri in order to keep Sato in F1 for the 2006 season.
This was such a late decision by the Honda Brass that the team began the ’06 season’s first four races with hastily revamped ex-2002 Arrows A23 chassis, for which I believe one was a converted Show Car on duty at the Australian Airport, Crikeys!
Sato had three team-mates in 2006, two being fellow countrymen Yuji Ide and Sakon Yamamoto, with Reserve Driver Frank “the Tank” Montagny sandwiched in between.
Takuma scored the team’s only points during the ’07 season, with new team-mate ANT’, aka Anthony Davidson alongside him before the team ran into financial difficulties during the Offseason and only barely made it to the grid at Australia and subsequently folded following the ’08 Spanish Grand Prix.
In the fall of ’08 Sato tested for Scuderia toro ross’s seat vacated by ‘lil syd Viddle, (Sebastian Vettel) which eventually went to Sebastian Buemi. He then went to the ’09 Indianapolis 500 where he made a deal to race for KV Racing Technology in Indy Cars for 2010.
Takuma’s rookie IndyCar season was a learning experience, finishing 21st Overall. He remained with the team for 2011 with team-mates EJ “What, Me Worry?” Viso and TK’ follow your Schnoz! Kanaan replacing “M ‘N M,” aka Mario Moraes, plus Pault Tracy who ran a partial season that year. Takuma netted three Top 5 finishes and his first two IndyCar Pole positions en route to P13 Overall.
For Twenty-Twelve, with the re-introduction of multiple engine manufactures, Sato moved to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing where he ended up just three corners short of winning that year’s Indianapolis 500 where he lived up to his motto of “No Attack, No chance!” Attempting to overtake Dario Franchitti into Turn 1 on the race’s final lap, with the Scotsman pushing him wide, with Sato ultimately crashing and Dario winning his third Indy 500. Which is the only time I’ve ever heard Fans Booing a winner at Mother Speedway!
Yet I still fondly recall David Coulthard, winner of 13 formula 1 races once Dismissively telling Sato He’d Never had attempted passing into some track’s corner during an F1 Drivers meeting Me Thinks? To which Takuma cheekily replied I “Know!” Hence why he’d pulled off the move on Coulthard…
The following year Takuma joined A.J. foyt enterprises, then a Honda powered team, since Sato has a long history of being Honda backed. In his third race with the team in the storied No. 14 entry, Takuma won the Long Beach Grand Prix! Which was the highlight of his tenure with ‘Ol SuperTex’s team, which is also it’s latest IndyCar victory. Yet with
Foyt switching to the bowtie’ for 2017, Sato was on the move once again.
Thus Sato switched to Mikey A’s team and won that year’s Indianapolis 500 in a spirited battle with some Dancin’ Fool named Hulio! As Sato became the first Japanese Driver to win at Mother Speedway! But with Andretti Autosport’s potential change to Chevrolet looming on the horizon,
Taku-san’ was forced to jump ship again.
Sato returned to Boobie Ruble and Company’s team for a second stint and the rest was History as they say. As the likeable Japanese IndyCar Driver’s won four races with RLLR to date, beginning with winning at Portland International Raceway upon it’s return to the IndyCar calendar after an eleven year hiatus.
In 2019 Sato won twice, first at Ye Barber’s, nee Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, and then the Racing Gods Smiled profusely upon him at Gateway, nee Wide World Technology Raceway the week after Sato was lambasted for supposedly causing a first lap Pile-up at Pocono.
And we All know how 2020 saw Sato join fairly elite company when he overtook and then held off Scotty “the Iceman 2.0” Dixon for his second Indianapolis 500 victory! Whilst you’d have to say that 2021’s been a pretty quiet year for Sato, and one must wonder how much longer he’ll race in IndyCar’s? Since after all Sato turns 45 next January, although Takuma’s legacy is firmly set, especially with his face adorning the Borg Warner trophy twice…
As what’s that ‘Ol Sato saying? Oh Yeah, Job done!