Dec 4, 2008

Sport - F1;Toro Rosso keep Sato's F1 comeback hopes alive

LONDON: Japan's Takuma Sato will test again for the race-winning Toro Rosso team in Spain next week, keeping alive his hopes of a Formula One comeback next season.

Sato's management said in a statement on Thursday that the 31-year-old former Jordan, BAR and Super Aguri driver would join the Ferrari-powered team at the Jerez circuit for their December 10-11 test.

"We obviously see this as a positive step but still nothing is decided for the 2009 racing season," said Sato's commercial manager Matthew Winter.

Sato is Japan's most successful Formula One driver, having scored 44 points from his 90 races including a third place in the 2004 US Grand Prix.

However he has not competed since this year's Spanish Grand Prix in April, when Honda-backed Super Aguri went out of business.

Toro Rosso, the former Minardi team, won this year's Italian Grand Prix with 21-year-old German Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel has since moved on to the main Red Bull team and is likely to be replaced by 20-year-old Swiss Sebastien Buemi.

France's Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso's other driver this year, has yet to be confirmed and Sato -- who has twice tested for the team in the last two months -- would represent an experienced alternative.

The popular Sato has also been presented as a useful instrument to help Red Bull increase sales of their energy drink in Japan. Red Bull recently regained full ownership of Toro Rosso.

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