He may have missed out on securing the second berth at Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2009 to S?bastien Bourdais, but Takuma Sato could yet be thrown a Formula 1 lifeline - with the confirmation that the Japanese star is in talks with Red Bull Racing regarding a test and reserve role.

Sato was unhappy to have been overlooked for the seat at Red Bull's 'junior' concern after impressing in tests for the small Faenza-based squad late last year, and his manager has suggested that money held the final say in which of the two candidates was ultimately given the nod. It had previously been rumoured that the 32-year-old was in pole position for the drive.

Sato's F1 career ground to something of a halt following Super Aguri's collapse last May, only four races into the 2008 campaign. He has since made no secret of his desire to return to the grand prix grid, and the news that Bourdais was to be retained at STR came as a significant blow to his chances.

Now, however, it has emerged that the man with 90 F1 starts under his belt - and a best finish of third place in the 2004 US Grand Prix for BAR-Honda - is under consideration to replace STR graduate S?bastien Buemi as RBR's third driver.

"He has a good reputation in Japan," Red Bull magnate and owner Dietrich Mateschitz is quoted as having said by Fox Sports. "He could work with us very well."