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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato

Takuma Sato did well at the Japanese Grand Prix, his early, unexpected chance to prove that BAR have not made a mistake by passing up the experience of Jacques Villeneuve for the promise of youth.

The Japanese drove strongly all weekend, running not far off team-mate Jenson Button's pace and finishing in the points in sixth place.

His performance confirmed the impression created by his debut Formula One season with Jordan in 2002 - that he was a driver of considerable potential as long as he could learn to keep his car on the road.

Sato became famous for a series of spectacular crashes.

Born: 28/1/77
Nationality: Japanese
First GP: Australia 2002
Best result: fifth
2003 position: 18th
Previous teams: Jordan
But despite the heavy repair bill incurred by Jordan, it seemed less that Sato was out of his depth, than that was trying to find the limit by going over it.

That impression was underlined when he drove to a superb fifth place in the final race of the season in Japan.

Sato - who steps up from his role as test driver this year, a role he also fulfilled for BAR in 2001 - has a tough act to follow.

Villeneuve was a world champion with a rare charisma and a propensity for speaking his mind.

A protege of BAR engine supplier Honda, Sato is more of a corporate man - but he is also approachable and friendly, qualities that Villeneuve rarely showed.

Sato began his motorsport career in karting and went on to earn a seat in the 1998 All-Japan Formula Three Championship, although he decided instead to move to England to race.

He capped a couple of seasons in British Formula Three, to which he graduated from Formula Opel, by winning the title in 2001.

He then moved up to become a test driver for BAR but with no seat available for the 2002 season, he joined Jordan.

Despite the accidents, Sato outqualified highly-rated team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella five times .

F1 2003

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