Takuma Sato's bid to return to the Formula One field may be put on hold after the Japanese ace was spotted touring the pit-lane during qualifying weekend at the Indianapolis 500.
The former Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri driver attempted to break back into the top flight with Toro Rosso, following SAF1's exit almost exactly a year ago, but was denied a shot at re-establishing his career when the Italian outfit appointed Sebastiens Bourdais and Buemi. Since then, and in spite of vowing to pursue all opportunities that may arise in F1, Sato has been linked to a possible switch to the Indy Racing League, ostensibly based on a one-off 2009 appearance at Motegi later in the season before a potential full-time campaign - including the Indy 500 - in 2010.
"Obviously, I know the track but this is my first trip during the IndyCar Series - and I'm very impressed," he commented from the Brickyard, "This place, obviously, is very important. I'm looking forward to any possibility of a chance in my future plans [to race in the Indianapolis 500] and am here just to have a look and feel it.
"I only know the race days in F1, so the Indy 500 on race day will be massively different from Pole Day today. But, obviously, I get the feeling that this is one of the biggest events in motorsports in the world. I'm so excited for it."
The Super Aguri team, meanwhile, has denied newspaper reports suggesting that it is planning to rise from its own ashes and return to Formula One should the proposed budget cap come to fruition.
The Japanese outfit, which was created by Honda to give Sato an opportunity to remain i F1 after being dropped by the works team in 2006, was forced to close its doors after last season's Spanish GP when sponsor-induced financial woes made its impossible to continue competing. The move left Sato and Anthony Davidson on the sidelines, but also provided a telling precursor to Honda's own exit at the end of the 2008 campaign.
Since then, however, FIA president Max Mosley has pressed ahead with plans to restrict teams to a budget of £40m - or severely handicap those not signing up - in an effort to prevent further withdrawals and even attract new blood into the sport. Super Aguri was last week listed along with the likes of Lola, Prodrive/Aston Martin and GP2 frontrunner iSport International, but has since attempted to play down talk of a resurrection.
"There's absolutely no chance," former co-owner Fumio Akita told Reuters
on Monday, "Even without the world financial crisis and its effect on Japan's economy, we couldn't afford it. We already pulled out once because we did not have the resources to continue and, even if we had $60 million to spend, we would have to start from scratch again. We don't know where these newspaper reports came from, but [team principal] Aguri [Suzuki] has also said there's no chance [of a return]."