RACING NEWS

Former Meritus driver Takuma Sato will race for BAR F1 in 2004

Former Meritus driver Takuma Sato will race for BAR F1 in 2004 image

Text: / Photos: | posted October 12, 2003 12:00

Takuma Sato, who won the 1999 Asian Formula 2000 race at the Macau Grand Prix with Meritus Racing, has been confirmed as Jenson Button's race partner at the BAR F1 team, replacing former world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

"Taku" raced for Jordan F1 in 2002 after dominating the elite British F3 series, and was the reserve driver at BAR for 2003. With only 4 years of racing experience before entering F1, Taku showed great potential in his first year with Jordan, with a stunning 5th place finish at the final round in front of his home crowd of Suzuka Japan. He continued to prove himself in a testing role with BAR, which earned him the right to join the 19 other drivers at the very top of the motor racing ladder.

Meritus played a key role during Taku's meteoric rise to the top, giving him valuable coaching and engineering support just before he entered Class A British F3.

"Without professional racing teams like Meritus, I would never have made it to F1," said Takuma Sato.

"This is great news, I always knew Taku belonged in F1," said Meritus Founder and President Peter Thompson. Meritus' mission statement is to "Create Asian Racing Heroes", and Takuma's new job is living proof of this success.

Meritus also helped Indian racer Narain Karthikeyan reach the top, when he raced and won the 1996 Asian Formula 2000 with the team, beating several racers from Europe. Narain went on to compete in British F3 and had a few testing sessions with Jordan F1 and Jaguar F1.

Meritus continues to pick the best of Asia and help them develop, with their latest Asian champions TUNG Ho-Pin and Hanss LIN Po-Heng, who are first and second respectively in the AFOS Formula BMW Asia Championship. Ho-Pin is the first ever Chinese winner of an International FIA Formula Championship, having dominated the season completely - 10 wins out of 12 races, and a 100% pole position record.

"Ho-Pin is probably the best driver to come through Meritus since we started in Asia in 1995. Not just in terms of driver ability, but fitness, presentability, media skills and so on. I'm sure he can match and even surpass Taku's achievements," said Peter Thompson.