Following on from the confirmation that Takuma Sato is to test with Scuderia Toro Rosso at Jerez later this month [see separate story – click here
], it is now being rumoured that should the Super Aguri F1 refugee indeed tie up a deal to race with the small Faenza-based squad next year, he may take Honda engines with him.
Sato has driven for Honda throughout his 91-race Formula 1 career, beginning with Jordan Grand Prix before moving on to both test and race for BAR-Honda and most recently Super Aguri, but since the latter collapsed back in May of this year, the Japanese ace has been unemployed – though making no secret of his desire to return to the top flight in one way or another.
Reports in Italy are now suggesting that should the 31-year-old join STR in 2009, the Red Bull junior concern could swap its current Ferrari engines for Honda power as part of the agreement – with Red Bull Racing in turn potentially receiving the Maranello units, in place of the underpowered Renault engines with which the Milton Keynes-based outfit is increasingly struggling to keep up the pace.
There has also been speculation that Sato – British F3 Champion back in 2001, and the only Japanese driver ever to have qualified on the front row of the grid in F1 and one of just two with a rostrum finish to his name – could help STR to pay for its Ferrari supply, should Honda be unwilling to risk allowing rivals RBR access to data about its engine. Red Bull currently designs and builds STR's chassis.