The life of an F1 rookie can be tough. From whatever previous racing background a driver graduates from to join the pinnacle of motor sport, there is invariably a lot of learning to be done. And there's no denying that Takuma Sato has been thrown...
The life of an F1 rookie can be tough. From whatever previous racing background a driver graduates from to join the pinnacle of motor sport, there is invariably a lot of learning to be done. And there's no denying that Takuma Sato has been thrown in at the deep end. From the troubles of Melbourne - which saw him having to qualify using his team mate's car on a wet track, to the tribulations of Kuala Lumpur - where he tested his team and team mate's patience to the limit by crashing into Giancarlo Fisichella, Takuma, or Taku as he is affectionately known in the team, has had a lot to deal with. But he's certainly able to swim, and if the manner in which he's coped with things is anything to go by, he has a long and successful future ahead of him in F1.
Taku's expression on returning to the garage after the Malaysian Grand Prix said it all. His sheepish look said the what he really wanted was for the ground to swallow him up. Blame it on youthful over-exuberance, but whatever the reason, his lack of experience had cost him dearly - he had rammed into the back of his team mate, damaging his own front wing and Giancarlo's rear wing. The rash manoeuvre had probably cost Giancarlo and the team a World Championship point. And he knew it. But instead of going off to hide in his private room, or coming up with an excuse that something had happened to cause him to crash into Fisi, Taku went around to each member of the team to apologise with a shake of hands. He knew there was nothing more he could say to make things better, but this act in itself was enough to restore good feeling in the Jordan camp. Angry and frustrated though mechanics and engineers must have felt, a conciliatory Taku quickly cleared the air. 'It's ok mate,' said one of his mechanics. 'You are forgiven. But you're only allowed to do it once, OK!'
The person most entitled to feel angry was Giancarlo. Taku spoke to him at Park Ferme immediately after the race. 'Takuma came up to apologise to me straight away,' explained Fisi. 'Of course I was very frustrated with what happened. His manoeuvre was a crazy thing to do, but he was genuinely sorry and upset by what had happened and he knew it had probably cost me a points finish. When you are new to F1, these things can happen, so there is no point making a big fuss about it. The story is over now. He's learnt an important lesson and we must just move on from here and forget about it.'
Fisi's reaction said a lot about how the Italian has matured over the years. Five years ago, when Ralf Schumacher collided with Fisichella in Argentina, probably costing him his first podium, the Italian's response was much more...Italian! But Rome's F1 hero has matured over the years. He knows that falling out with a team mate is not in anyone's interest. Had Taku been driving for another team, Fisi might not have been so gentlemanly. But gentlemanly he certainly was, which only re-confirmed him as one of F1s heroes.