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Tuesday, 9 October, 2001, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Sato lands Jordan seat
Takuma Sato in a Jordan-Honda in 2000, copyright LAT Photographic
Sato tested for Jordan at the end of last year
Japanese rising star Takuma Sato will race in Formula One next season with Jordan.

The decision ends the hopes of French veteran Jean Alesi of staying with the team.

A Honda official revealed the deal on Tuesday, saying that Sato would discuss his future at a news conference on Wednesday.

Asked if Sato would announce his contract with Jordan-Honda, the official said: "You may well expect him to do so."

Jean Alesi (left) and Eddie Jordan
Alesi is not wanted by Jordan for 2002

A senior Jordan source confirmed the signing to BBC Sport Online.

Sato won the British Formula Three title this season and has also been a test driver for Honda's other team, British American Racing.

BAR will have received compensation for letting the driver go.

Sato will partner Italian Giancarlo Fisichella at Jordan in 2002.

Jordan are taking a risk in signing an effectively untried driver, but are understood to have taken the decision after closely watching his performance in testing for BAR this year.

Sato is rated as the brightest hope to come out of Japanese racing.

Honda 'not involved'

In the past, Japanese drivers have struggled to adapt to the different culture in European racing.

But Sato has immersed himself in Europe in an attempt to overcome this problem. His attitude and mentality have impressed Jordan - and he also has a good understanding of English.

His signing will please Honda, but they are said by Jordan insiders not to have had any influence in the decision.

However, it is thought that team owner Eddie Jordan has taken Honda into account in his thinking.

Giancarlo Fisichella
Fisichella will be Sato's team-mate in 2002

Honda are expected to decide in the course of 2002 whether to stay with BAR or Jordan.

Jordan have been the more competitive of the two teams this season - and have a contract that lasts until the end of 2003, whereas BAR's ends next year.

However, Honda are a notoriously ruthless and fickle company when it comes to making decisions in F1 - and Jordan probably feels that having a Japanese driver can do his cause no harm.

Alesi's F1 future is now in considerable doubt. He is 37 and his options for next season are running out.

Arrows have said they are interested in signing him for 2002 alongside German Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who was sacked by Jordan in July.

But that situation is clouded by claims from the owner of the Red Bull drinks company that he is trying to take over Arrows and turn it into an American team with American drivers.

Britain Justin Wilson and Indian Narain Karthikeyan, who impressed in testing for Jordan last week, are in the running for the job as the team's official test driver next year.

See also:

07 Oct 01 |  Motorsport
Red Bull in Arrows takeover plan
03 Oct 01 |  Formula One
Alesi demands Jordan answer
02 Oct 01 |  Formula One
Jordan: F1 needs new talent
10 Oct 01 |  Motorsport
Sato wins Formula Three title
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