BAR's Takuma Sato is looking forward to this weekend's Chinese GP, then aiming for a podium finish at his home race in Japan Q: Fourth place at Monza must have been a big boost for you -- more so, perhaps, as it helped Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda...
BAR's Takuma Sato is looking forward to this weekend's Chinese GP, then aiming for a podium finish at his home race in Japan
Q: Fourth place at Monza must have been a big boost for you -- more so, perhaps, as it helped Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda to leap-frog Renault into second place in the constructors' championship?
Takuma Sato: It was a great result not just for me but also for the whole team - those at the track, the test team and all of those back at base. We had hoped to cut Renault's lead but we actually made up all the ground and overtook them. As I say, it was a great result.
Q: Now you must be looking forward to going to China?
TS: Yes, it's great for me to have another race in Asia and it's going to be very interesting. I visited Shanghai last year (photo left) but haven't been to the circuit yet. Jenson and Anthony, though, have been there and they say it's going to be fantastic. I can't wait!
Q: After China it's off to Japan for your home race - you must be dreaming about winning at Suzuka.
TS: Winning will be extremely difficult? even though that's what we are always aiming for. But, I think, a podium place is possible and that's what I'm aiming for.
Q: Is there extra pressure on you when racing at home?
TS: Pressure is always there and, of course, there's always some extra pressure at Suzuka. But that's not a negative factor. To me, it's very positive. I get a lot of support from the fans and the atmosphere is absolutely fantastic -- so I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: You appeared to have some problems in the races immediately after your podium at Indianapolis -- is that a fair reflection of your form?
TS: I'm always learning and improving -- and so does the team. Obviously we struggled a bit at the beginning of the season with some reliability issues but that doesn't appear to be a big problem any more. We now have big confidence that the car will finish races. We did have a struggle in France and Britain but now I'm confident I've come back to the speed and everything is looking very good. We now have some good momentum.
Q: Have you had to change your approach or driving style to help with reliability?
TS: No, it was a fundamental mechanical thing. The Honda engine has improved a lot. They've sorted out that reliability issue and therefore can now concentrate fully on power.
Q: Judging by recent results, the team seems to be coping well with the confusion over Jenson Button's future.
TS: Yes. While there may be things going on away from the circuit, at the track -- and especially during a Grand Prix -- we are fully concentrated. This team is full of really professional people, so the atmosphere hasn't really changed and that's great.
Q: What can B.A.R do to beat Ferrari?
TS: Before beating Ferrari, we have to catch them; we have to cross the divide which remains quite big. But everyone is working flat-out to close to this gap. We now are second in the constructors' standings so we must be doing a lot right already. Hopefully we will be even closer next year.
Q: Will Jacques Villeneuve's arrival at Renault add some more spice to the battle for second place in the constructors' championship?
TS: Could be, yes, but we can't say definitely as we don't know yet just how competitive he's going to be. Obviously he has great F1 experience, so he should be able to get straight back into Grand Prix mode. However, it's a shame to see drivers like Christiano da Matta and Jarno Trulli suddenly losing their seats.