Formula one, 2001 season Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka: Who drives what: the jpoc report

Negotiations between Frentzen and Prost continued over a drive for 2002. No firm announcements were made but the German was having seat fittings for the new chassis.

The chances of Felipe Massa joining Sauber were boosted by the news that he was to have another multi-day test with the team at Mugello. In the wake of the departure of McLaren bound Kimi Raikkonen, the team were looking tor a new team mate for Nick Heidfeld.

Negotiations between Jean Alesi and Eddie Jordan were being conducted in the motorsport press as the most experienced driver currently active demanded to know the team's decision before the race in Japan. We'd have thought that all of that experience might have taught him some diplomacy but what do we know?

Finally the whole deal was settled by Jordan's engine supplier Honda. They announced that Takuma Sato would drive alongside Giancarlo Fisichella. That led Jean Alesi to announce his retirement from F1 and Eddie Jordan said that he hoped that Jean would accept a non-driving role in the team. Alesi was still looking around for a drive in the US CART series.

For a Japanese, Sato seemed to have been taking a very European oriented path to F1. He moved to Europe in order to learn English and to be closer to the F1 world. He won the 2001 British F3 championship and impressed many. Jordan gave him a test drive in December 2000 but that was his only outing in one of Eddie's cars. For 2001, he signed for BAR as a test driver and certainly impressed there and also cemented good realtions with Honda which supplied engines to both BAR and Jordan in 2001. Honda had already agreed to supply both teams in 2002 but rumours persisted that, in the longer term, they were looking to reduce that commitment to just one. Having a Japanese driver in the team would not hurt Eddie Jordan in the stakes to secure Honda power beyond 2002. It might even gain an edge with tyre supplier Bridgestone. Sato's deal was for two years with Jordan holding an option for another two after that.

The whole 2001 season All the races and the behind the scenes games
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Business and politics
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Teams and personnel
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Circuit news
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Setting the scene
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Practice and qualifying
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th The starting grid
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Race report
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Results
Japanese GP at Suzuka October 14th Championship standings after the race
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