It was not the greatest of starts to the season for BAR and Takuma Sato is expecting more hard work to come after a tough race in Melbourne. BAR was arguably the most improved team on the grid in 2004 but although winter testing went well, Sato...
It was not the greatest of starts to the season for BAR and Takuma Sato is expecting more hard work to come after a tough race in Melbourne. BAR was arguably the most improved team on the grid in 2004 but although winter testing went well, Sato knew 2005 was not going to be easy. The Japanese and teammate Jenson Button did not run in the points at Albert Park and both took a tactical retirement on the last lap.
"It was almost certain that we would have a huge challenge in 2005, partly because of the technical regulation changes, and because last year McLaren and Williams were off the pace and Renault weren't satisfied with themselves," Sato told his website. "But now McLaren are back where they should be and Renault are mega quick. But I didn't expect it to be this hard!"
Sato was one of the drivers to be caught out by the rain during Saturday qualifying. On intermediate tyres, the BAR couldn't cope with the downpour and went off track at turn eight on the out lap. "I was sent out on intermediate tyres and I was very surprised with the conditions," Sato commented. "I couldn't do anything then."
"I was aquaplaning everywhere so I couldn't go fast -- the tyres just didn't have the capacity for that amount of water. I applied only 18% throttle at that point but even then I lost control completely." Sato was not injured in the incident but it was the end of his Saturday qualifying. On Sunday he opted not to set a flying lap to conserve tyres and engine.
After starting from the back of the grid for the race, Sato saw some action with the other back-end starters and eventually worked his way up to 12th. However, seeing as its cars were outside the points at the end of the race, BAR decided to retire Takuma and Button on the last lap in order to have the option of using a fresh engine for Malaysia.
"Both Jenson and I failed to score a point, we are off the pace and we have to work very hard," Sato admitted. "I never give up but you have to look at facts -- it's going to be tough. But Melbourne is unique and Sepang is very different characteristics, so I hope we can challenge and gain some strong results if we pick up some speed."
The new rules state that if a driver does not finish a race he may use a fresh engine for the next one and while Sato and Button's non-finishes were by design rather than accident, the rule has not been contravened. Whether BAR will use new engines for Malaysia is reportedly undecided.