Takuma Sato used the recent break in Formula 1 competition to revisit old friends after taking a trip to the headquarters of the Carlin team that carried him to the British F3 Championship crown back in 2001.

The Japanese ace was embroiled in a heated battle with Briton Anthony Davidson for the F3 title, with the pair now being reunited in F1 with Super Aguri after Davidson finally made the move into a Formula 1 race seat.

Reunited with the car in which he won the famed Macau F3 race, Sato reflected on a visit to see 'old family' and admitted he was proud to have been involved with one of the top teams involved in the junior formulas of Motorsport.

"It's great to be back to see the team and Trevor," he said. "When I raced for Carlin they were over in a little unit and now they have grown to expand into this big office and buy another factory as well. It's good to see how they've grown, but also how successful they still are.

"When I raced for Carlin they were still a small team really. With my car here and all the trophies, it's got a real F3 atmosphere about it. It's great to see. There's a little break in the F1 schedule and my family and I are over in England, so I just wanted to come and say hello. Trevor and I have bumped into each other in the F1 paddock, but obviously its difficult to really catch up and talk as we were both busy with our own things, so it's nice to have the time now.

"I feel very proud when I look at the success of the team. They are very successful in the junior levels of motorsport and that's important. It's important to have a team like Carlin Motorsport being successful at lower levels; it gives young drivers the chance to follow the path that I did. Obviously it's hard to watch everything in detail because I'm busy a lot of the time, but I do check to see how Carlin are getting on in the different championships and it's great to see them at the top."

Sato added that his time with the team had been key to him making the move up to Formula 1, with his initial spell as a test driver with BAR coming during his title winning F3 campaign before he secured a race seat with Jordan the following year.

"Certainly the team was very instrumental," he admitted. "When I first came to the UK I barely spoke any English and the team really helped me with that. And the experience I had working with the team and the engineers and the success we had meant that by the end of 2001, I was ready to make the move into F1."



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