Q and A with Takuma Sato
Q. Takuma, Super Aguri F1 team achieved its first championship point at the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix, what were you thinking when you crossed the finish line in 8th position?
Takuma Sato: It was a fantastic feeling! In my mind I was thanking everyone in the race team, at Leafield, in Tochigi, our fans and my family. I was extremely satisfied with the result because every second counted throughout the whole race and there was no margin for error. I was also thinking about how it had only been 15 months since the team started and to get into the Top 10, to grab that point, well that was just fantastic.
It means a lot to us, so I was a very happy man. Also the other thing I thought was that the second Sunday of May is usually Mother's Day in Japan and in some countries. At the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix the organizers had invited the drivers' mothers' to the race and this is where I had a horrendous accident. So in Spain it was a little gift for my mum as well as the result for the team.
Q. The next Grand Prix is in Monaco and is a very challenging Formula One race for both driver and car, how do you think that the SA07 will perform?
TS: I am looking forward to Monaco not only because of the success we had in Spain, but because in Monaco you need good mechanical grip and the new gearbox that we introduced at the last race and the new aero package that we tested in Ricard worked well. I think that we are developing at a good pace, as everyone else is, and that we have a good car. The Monaco circuit is very challenging for the drivers and cars.
Last year we had one of our best races in the SA05 there, but unfortunately we had an electric problem so I could not finish. Historically Monaco is a great circuit, but as it is unique to any other in F1 every moment you are on the track you need precision. It is a challenging race, but I am confident that we can do a good job with the SA07.
Q. It will be the first time that the teams' will be running the soft and supersoft Bridgestone Potenza tire options, how is that going to affect you?
TS: We tested both options in Paul Ricard last week, but as Monaco is the only street circuit on the calendar and you cannot test on it, it is difficult to reproduce its conditions during testing. The Monaco streets have such low grip so we shall be using the Bridgestone Potenza very soft compound tire to maximize the mechanical grip.
But if you put to great a force on these tires they will not survive. We collected valuable data at Ricard, so hopefully we can make them work on our car, but it will be challenging on the supersoft Bridgestone option.
Q. How do you deal with driving a very heavy car, loaded with fuel, and then a very light car around Monaco during the race?
TS: In terms of approaching corners the line is identical. Depending on the tire grip level on the softer tire you may be able to go in a little deeper, like in the Qualifying situation. The racing line is very limited in Monaco and during the race you have to handle it well under control when we are on the supersoft tire as it is very delicate, so you have to treat it gently without killing any speed.
But you cannot be too aggressive, especially with a heavier car. You have to be so precise because if you have a slide it is very difficult to correct it here and a heavy car makes it even more difficult. A lighter car with more grip helps in that situation. You have to adapt your driving on every lap as conditions and situations change.
Q. There are further street circuits planned for Formula One in the future, what are your feelings on this?
TS: Safety is the main issue for me; for the competitors, spectators and marshals around the track. A street circuit is always challenging and exciting because you drive very close to the boundaries and there is no margin for error, so as long as the tracks are safe I think that we can enjoy them.