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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

BAR to unlock Sato's potential

June 15, 2004 01:15 IST

BAR are convinced Takuma Sato is a major talent but unlocking his potential is proving a problem.

Sato could have become the highest scoring Japanese driver in Formula One history in Canada at the weekend but instead ended up sidelined once again when his engine let go in a cloud of smoke.

While British team mate Jenson Button has raced on untroubled, racking up six podiums in seven starts, Sato has yet to stand among the top three despite a front row start at the Nuerburgring this month.

Team boss David Richards, who expressed his frustration when Sato blew his qualifying lap with a last corner spin on Saturday, recognises he has work to do but feels sure it is just a matter of time.

"He is an extraordinary talent and my job is to harness it now," said Richards.

"He will learn and he's learning all the time but obviously we are impatient all of us for that to come right for him.

"When it comes right, and I've seen it so many times before with people of that sort of level of speed and performance, then it just won't stop."

Richards sat down with Sato for an hour on Saturday, talking him through the situation "and what we needed to get the best out of things".

Those talks are set to continue as the team heads for Indianapolis for this week's U.S. Grand Prix.


Richards refused to blame Sato for the engine problems that have halted his last three races, rejecting a suggestion that his hard driving style could be contributing to the failures.

"It's something we don't understand to be perfectly honest and I don't think you can level blame at Taku for that at all," said Richards.

"We have to try and understand it. There is a technical reason for it and it certainly can't be blamed on the driver."

Despite fifth being his highest placing this season, Sato has carved a reputation for himself as a daredevil eager to take on the likes of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.

In Monaco, albeit with a suspicious start, he carved between the two Ferraris and at the Nuerburgring he collided with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello as he attempted an audacious overtaking manoeuvre.

Richards suggested he needed to calm down, however.

"We had a little talking to him, trying to temper his enthusiasm, quietly cajoling him and to lower the expectations as well," he said. "You know, you win races in the first corner and you don't win championships in the first race, do you?"

"You always see aggressive performances from people who are uncertain of their position, or just their performance overall. He's got to be a little more comfortable setting goals for himself," said the boss.

"I think we all make our own pressure and we can manage that very carefully if we think about it. There are ways in which we can control that for him and help him out of the problem."

"The pressure is on me, quite frankly because he drives for I've got to find ways of getting the best out of him."

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