Interview with Super Aguri's Sato and Davidson 14 Mar 2007
With the SA07s late launch in Melbourne, Super Aguri race drivers Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson have at long last seen the car they will fight their 2007 campaign in. Here, the pair divulge their expectations for the season ahead and look forward to battling it out on the track together again
Q: Are you happy with the progress that the Super Aguri team has made during the winter preparations for the coming season?
Takuma Sato: Its been a long winter test compared to what we had last year! Technically we are looking good, but as with everything, we are demanding and there is never as much time as you would like to prepare. Looking at our situation right now, I am very happy with the progress that we have made, with the developments on the car and the team atmosphere.
Anthony Davidson: I am very happy. Reliability has been on our side and we have not caused one red flag situation during testing so far, which is really good because a lot of the other teams have caused a lot of stoppages during testing, so I think that this has been one of our strengths going into the early part of the year especially. We have made a lot of progress on making the Bridgestone Potenza tyres work, because in the beginning it was a struggle for everybody, including our team, when it was cooler and there was a lot less grip. But we have really turned this around and I feel much more comfortable driving the car now at this point. I have worked on changing my driving style slightly to suit the new tyres and I think that everyone has been in the same situation up and down the paddock.
Q: And with the 2007 car preparations?
TS: They have been very successful. We were able to participate in the first winter test at the end of November 2006 and I myself joined the team testing at the end of December and was able to experience the 2007 Bridgestone Potenza control tyres for the first time. We made good progress that continued into the new year and we are very happy with our last test in Bahrain and our new aero package, so I believe that we have completed a very good exercise over the winter.
AD: During the first weeks testing in Bahrain last month we tested some new aero parts. The team has expanded the aero department over the winter and has made some pretty impressive steps forward. In Bahrain we found that the new aero package was looking after the tyres quite well, on the longer runs especially. The car was a lot more balanced and I think that Taku had a very positive test the following week when even further upgrades were made. The team is pushing forward a lot and we should see some good results.
Q: What will Formula One racing be like with only Bridgestone Potenza tyres in 2007? Will the sport change?
TS: I think that it may change a little, but we shall have to wait and see. I believe that a strong team is always strong and so it will not make a huge difference to us. Now that we have one tyre supplier the situation and conditions will be the same for every team, but I believe that the racing may be closer than before.
AD: I do not think it will change from the general publics point of view. We will still have two different tyre types, albeit from the same manufacturer. The different compounds that we will have at the races will make it interesting, seeing as we have to use at least one of each type during the race, so this will be good for the fans. Obviously there is no tyre war as such between manufacturers, but this is Formula One and the sport will always naturally push things to the limit. Even though the tyres are a little slower than what we had last year, the cars are constantly developing and Bridgestone will obviously be pushing to keep the teams happy, and when we are fast we are happy!
Q: Who do you think you will take the challenge to this year?
TS: Whoever is in front of me! Obviously last year was a big challenge for us and we had no particular main rivals until the end of season. This year we shall reach a higher level of competition and hopefully be in the middle of the grid, so I am looking forward to taking the challenge to whoever is in front of us.
AD: The first challenge will be to take it to Takuma, to fight him through the year and be as close to him as I can from the word go. By the end of the year I hope that both of us will have worked with the team to improve the car and be taking the challenge to the teams at the back of the grid, within striking distance of our car, and from what I have seen from testing so far, this is likely to be teams like Spyker and Toyota.
Q: What is it like working with each other again?
TS: Obviously it is great. I have known Anthony for many years as we raced together in 2001 in British Formula 3 and as you know we worked together at BAR Honda. Anthony has great experience from testing in F1 and has showed tremendous speed in the third driver role over the past few years, so he could bring some very positive things to the team. I also think that we will enjoy giving each other a little pressure on the track and it will certainly push team and ourselves to the absolute limit to achieve the best possible result we could have.
AD: It is really nice. It is good to arrive at a new team with new faces, but to also have a known quantity in Takuma. And someone you know you can work well with as well - we always have. We raced against each other in Formula 3 in 2001 and were obviously team mates at BAR Honda, so it is good to have him here.
Q: What are your aims for 2007?
TS: Personally I would like to go to every Grand Prix and score a point. Realistically I know that this will be very hard as we would have to beat some of the more experienced teams on the grid, but I think I have to challenge and this will be my approach for this year.
AD: To finish the race in Melbourne and get to the checkered flag - thats the first goal. It is something I have never done in Formula One and I hope to progress from there. Also to bring a few points home for the team would make a dream year for me. So my aims have to be to improve the car as the year goes on and be fighting for points at the end of the season. A personal aim is for the last race to be my best race - I want to improve myself constantly as the year goes on.