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  Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
Sato seals perfect finish for Jordan
Takuma Sato celebrates his seventh place on the grid
Sato drove well all weekend in Japan
Formula One rookie Takuma Sato has won the praise of his team boss after finishing fifth in the Japanese Grand Prix and giving Jordan an unexpected multi-million pound bonus.

Jordan have had a difficult year, and are still struggling to find a full budget for 2003, a year in which they will have to pay for Cosworth engines after being dropped by Honda.

But the Japanese driver's performance has moved them up to sixth place in the constructors' championship, leapfrogging Jaguar and BAR.

That will guarantee a raise in prize money for next year of several million pounds.


Taku needs corporate Japan to get behind him to make sure he's in the right car next year
Eddie Jordan

That is a huge boost for Jordan, whose engines will cost them a reputed $15m (9.6m).

Sato has been criticised this year for crashing too much, and despite being contracted to Jordan is still not guaranteed a drive for next season.

But team owner Eddie Jordan paid generous tribute to Sato after the race.

"It makes a big difference. Eighth is not somewhere where Jordan would like to be... we had to fight for sixth.

"It wasn't a great season, but it was a great ending."

He added: "I have to admit I didn't expect Takuma to come here and qualify seventh and finish fifth," said Jordan.

Takuma Sato leads one of the Renaults during the Japanese Grand Prix
Sato had to fend off the Renaults in the race
"He drove a perfect race and showed the talent I've been telling everyone about."

"He was excellent in qualifying [when Sato was seventh, ahead of team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella] and he was so controlled and strong in the race.

"He has been on the money all weekend."

Jordan issued a plea to Japanese business to find more sponsorship to back Sato for 2003 - implying that only more money would secure his seat at the team.

"It was a big risk for us to take him this year, but we believed in him. Now he needs corporate Japan to get behind him to make sure he's in the right car next year.


The fans were so excited - they were waving throughout the race
Takuma Sato

"He has crashed a lot and cost us a lot of money but I don't want to take anything away from him after this performance.

"If Japan gets behind him, they've got a real champion here in the future."

Sato's presence on the grid guaranteed that the number of spectators at the Japanese Grand Prix was 20% greater than last year.

Sato said: "It is just unbelievable. Right from the start the fans were waving flags and whatever, the whole race for 50 laps. I could see it. That meant so much to me.

"I could drive very comfortably, be very confident in every corner. That was a great feeling really.

He said he had been concerned in the last few laps after Fisichella and the BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve, who also has a Honda engine, retired with engine failures.

"I saw a couple of Honda engines had blown up and I short-shifted for the last 10 laps so as not to take any risks."

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F1 2002
See also:

13 Oct 02 | Formula One
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