Anthony Davidsons path to a full-time Formula One race seat was a long, winding, some might even say, tortuous, path. After just three Grand Prix outings between 2002 and 2005 - but with a wealth of testing experience - he was finally rewarded with a Super Aguri drive for 2007.
Born in the British town of Hemel Hempstead in 1979, Davidson began driving aged just eight, when his father bought him a kart as a birthday present. What started as a hobby quickly became serious sport and over the next 12 years he accumulated numerous titles, turning professional in 1997 with the Italian Biesse team.
At the end of 1999 he finally made the move to single-seaters, winning his first six Formula Ford races - all from pole position. He went on to become the winter series champion in Formula Ford Zetec and at the end of 2000 triumphed in the highly-regarded Formula Ford Festival. On top of this he won the prestigious McLaren/Autosport Young Driver of the Year Award and was signed up to the BAR Formula One teams young driver programme.
It was into British Formula Three for 2001, partnering Takuma Sato at Carlin Motorsport. Davidson finished runner-up to champion Sato in his rookie season with six wins and seven poles. He also shone in international competition, scooping the honours in the F3 Euro Cup series thanks to victories at Pau and Spa. And to round off his season he got his first Formula One test with BAR at Mugello in Italy. He must have impressed, as he was promptly signed up as the teams official test driver for 2002.
But Davidson did more than test that year. He made his Formula One race debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix with Minardi, the first of two outings for the Italian team, standing in struggling regular driver Alex Yoong. In an uncompetitive car, he qualified last and retired on both occasions, but it was valuable experience, which built on his rapidly-growing reputation as a highly proficient tester. He continued as BARs (latterly Hondas) reserve driver until 2006, his name becoming a common sight at the top of the Friday timesheets during the third car era. His one and only race appearance for the team came at the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, replacing a sick Takuma Sato. He qualified a solid 15th, before retiring from the race with engine trouble.
Following news that Sato had been dropped by BAR (about to become Honda) for 2006, Davidson had hoped to finally get a full-time race call-up. However, he was passed over for the seat in favour of the more experienced Rubens Barrichello and for a while it looked as though he would be left to face another year on the sidelines. Then came Super Aguri, who handed Sato and Davidson the chance to renew their old F3 partnership. It was the Japanese driver who dominated the duel before and so it proved again in 2007. However, Davidson provided a consistently close challenge to his team mate - and one that could become even closer in 2008.