Virtuosi Racing's Marino Sato has seen almost everything there is to see in Formula 2 and the Japanese driver has taken plenty of experience into his most successful campaign so far.
Sato recalled the most important moments in his racing career that have helped shape the driver he is today, from testing times to testing Formula 1.
FIRST F4 WIN
“2016 Italian F4, my first win in a single-seater. Up until then I had a couple of podiums, but not much more than that. I was quite down on myself up to that race. That win brought me up again and gave me some power to move forward from then on.
“It was always my favourite track on the calendar. We were not the quickest, but with all the races that year, we brought ourselves into that position even though we were not the fastest cars. It was quite lucky, but I started off well, I led the race for pretty much the whole distance. Also, the car behind me so much faster than me, but somehow managed to hold them off.
“Imola is just fun to drive, the flow through all the sections – it’s really fun to drive.”
MY 2019 SEASON
“My 2019 season was pretty good. The Championship we were planning to do that year collapsed so we had to find a different series. I had minimal preparation going into that series, new tyres, new rules for the car and team as well. I think we did a really good job that season.
“I already did a couple of years of European F3 before that, I was familiar with the car but there was just a slight difference in the regulations. Going to Paul Ricard, it was my first time going to that track. That was my first race and the first time driving there, so it was a bit of learning. I had an issue in the first race, so that wasn’t great but despite that we knew we were quite good and on the next day, we placed ourselves better in Qualifying and that definitely gave me confidence for the rest of the season.
“Winning the title, it was more like, let’s say I finally took a breath. I was happy but more than that it was like ‘phwoar’.”
“That test happened quite suddenly. It was only months before that test, my manager got the call from Red Bull about the opportunity for that test, but everything happened very quick, but I guess that’s how it is in F1.
“That day made me visualise more what my dream is. It showed me more where I have to be or where I want to go. When I was strapped in for the first time and putting the steering wheel on, that was alright. But when the tyres were fitted and there were four mechanics per tyre, I was sat there waiting like ‘come on guys!’
“You don’t have so many people around your car until you get to F1. We have maybe two mechanics on the car but that day I had four just on each tyre.”