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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Takuma Sato
Rough diamond

Takuma Sato
Born: 28/1/77
Nationality: Japanese
First GP: Australia 2002
Best result: 3rd
2004 position: 8th
Previous teams: Jordan
Takuma Sato has on occasion this year shown signs that he can repay the faith BAR showed by bringing him in as replacement for Jacques Villeneuve.

Sato's talent is not in question - he is widely regarded as the best Japanese driver to race in Formula One.

But it remains to be seen whether Sato can harness his ability and unlock his undoubted potential.

There have been fewer accidents this season, but early promise faded and he went off the boil from mid-season.

For a time early on in 2004, a series of strong drives had many predicting that it would be Sato and not team-mate Jenson Button who was most likely to break BAR's victory duck.

But following an impressive performance at the US Grand Prix, Sato seemed to lose confidence, and he has never fully recovered.

Perhaps he was knocked back by the number of engine failures his car was suffering.

Some have even suggested that he looked so good against Button early in the season because Honda was using his car to test all their development engine parts.

If that was true, Honda was not saying. But certainly Sato's form has slipped as the retirements have ended.

Time will surely tell if that is merely a coincidence.

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