Takuma Sato is keeping his counsel on whether or not he will be part of the Scuderia Toro Rosso line-up next season, despite having created a strong impression during his recent test with the team at Jerez.
The Japanese driver, out of F1 work since Super Aguri went under in May, was invited to try out alongside Red Bull protégé Sebastien Buemi during the latest group test, and enjoyed a mutually successful day on track that led to suggestions that he might not only be a part of the team in 2009, but could also be called up to replace Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel should the German be required to replace David Coulthard before the end of the year.
Sato, however, is playing down both suggestions, aware that there are a lot of drivers being linked with what could be the only open seat ahead of next year.
"I think to answer the question [of whether I will be racing with STR] is very difficult - and the answer is that I don't know," he told GPWeek
, "Obviously, it will depend on the team's decision, [but], the diver market is still open and it all depends on who moves where.
"We felt that it was a really good test, but now it's a matter of how things develop. I don't think they will hurry with their decision, so we will probably have to wait until the end of the season - or maybe even the end of the year."
Despite Toro Rosso's reputation as a minnow - although Vettel's Monza success ended that of 'backmarker' - Sato admitted to being very impressed with the team's set-up, and the car that he got to drive at Jerez last week.
"The atmosphere was absolutely fantastic," he enthused, "They still use the original Minardi factory, which is a bit different from some of the current F1 standards, but it all seemed so familiar because everything was in one place.
"[The car] is [also] quite a different surrounding to what I'm used to but, while to comment on the direct comparison would be inappropriate, my general feeling is that the car is just fundamentally very fast. The last two-and-a-half years, although I had some great racing, I wasn't consistently a top contender in grands prix because of the equipment we had. But this is, without doubt, one of the fastest cars in F1 and now I understand why they are so quick.
"It is one of the fastest grand prix cars I've veer driven - this is a top contender's car, so I really enjoyed the drive. What this team has done, and how they have progressed.... Toro Rosso was our direct competitor at Super Aguri, so I'm pleased to this team, in a similar situation and circumstance, become so competitive."