After leading for fifty laps of the eighty lap Toyota Grand Prix at Long Beach on Sunday, Takuma Sato became the first Japanese driver ever to win an IndyCar championship race. Driving the #14 car for AJ Foyt Racing, Sato crossed the finish line ahead of Graham Rahal, with Justin Wilson, Dario Franchitti and JR Hildebrand taking third, fourth and fifth places. Sato started the race in fourth position and clocked up an average speed of 85.763 mph, scoring 53 points for the race. In a post-race interview Sato noted that it had been a perfect weekend, commending his team for doing a tremendous job and saying that he had been comfortable in the car and was able to “push everything”.
Born in Toyko in January 1977, Takuma Sato started his racing career on two wheels, winning a number of national junior championships for bicycle racing. He was 19 when he starting karting in Japan, moving up into the All-Japan Formula Three Championship for part of a season before moving to England in 1998 in pursuit of a European racing career. After competing in the British Formula Three Championship for two full seasons during which time he won the championship in 2001, Sato graduated to Formula One in 2002, enjoying a measure of success during his seven years, but losing his seat when Super Aguri withdrew from F1 due to financial difficulties. Sato signed with KV Racing Technology, driving for the team in both 2010 and 2011, finishing the season 21st and 13th respectively. In 2012 he drove for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, finishing 14th for the season, and signed with AJ Foyt’s team for 2013.
The current top five in the 2013 IndyCar Championship are Helio Castroneves (99 points); Takuma Sato (93 points); Scott Dixon (89 points); Marco Andretti (87 points); and Justin Wilson (81 points). The next IndyCar Series event is the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Sao Paulo, Brazil – the home country of Helio Castroneves.
Vitantonio “Tonio” Liuzzi was born in Locorotondo, Italy, on 6 August 1981. He began kart racing at the age of 9. During his time as a kart racing driver he won the Italian Karting Championship (1993) and the Karting World Championship (2001), amongst other successes.
In 2001 Liuzzi debuted in single-seater racing, taking second place in the German Formula Renault championship. The following year he competed in the German Formula Three championship, where he came in ninth overall. During the year he also test drove for F1 team Williams. In 2003 he was signed by Red Bull’s F3000 team. He ended the season in fourth position. Continuing on in F3000, he joined the Arden team for 2004 and took the title that season.
Vitantonio Liuzzi made his Formula One debut in 2005, racing for Red Bull, sharing his position on the team with Christian Klien. He scored his first point during his first race at San Marino that year. In 2006 Liuzzi enjoyed his first full F1 season racing for Toro Rosso. He earned the team’s only point at the United States Grand Prix, though his consistency was praised. The 2007 season with Toro Rosso was challenging and Liuzzi scored once at the Grand Prix in China. He joined Force India as the third driver for the 2008 season. In 2009 he raced the last five rounds for Force India. He became a full-time driver for Force India in 2010.
Born in Emmerich am Rhein, Germany, on 19 August 1987, Nicolas “Nico” Hülkenberg began karting at the age of 10. He won the German Junior Karting Championship in 2002 and took the German Kart Championship title in 2003.
In 2005, Hülkenberg made his Formula BMW ADAC debut, winning the championship with nine wins and eight poles. During 2006 he took part in the German Formula Three Championship and also joined the German A1 Grand Prix team. He gained nine wins in the A1GP, leading his team to victory. 2007 was another successful year for the talented Nicolas Hülkenberg, when he took third position in the Formula Three Euroseries championship, racing for ASM. He also won the Formula Three Masters race at Zolder. Hülkenberg really impressed in 2008 when he won the Formula Three Euroseries championship. That same year he was the official test driver for the Williams team.
Nicolas Hülkenberg made is GP2 Series debut in 2009 and took home the title. He was still testing for Williams at the time. In November 2009 it was confirmed that Hülkenberg would race for Williams F1 during the 2010 season. It seems that there is nothing holding this talented driver back, and F1 fans should keep an eye out for this rising star.
Jenson Alexander Lyons Button is a British Formula One driver born in Frome on 19 January 1980. He hit the track at a young age, beginning with karting at eight years. In 1989, at 9 years of age, Jenson Button took first competed in the British Super Prix. He achieved many successes as a kart driver, including becoming the youngest driver to win the European Super A championship in 1997.
In 1998 Jenson Button began competing in the British Formula Ford championship, where you came in first with nine race wins. That same year he placed second in the European Formula Ford championship. At the end of the year he was awarded the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. 1999 was another successful year for Jenson Button as he entered the world of Formula Three racing. Coming in third overall, he ended the season as the top rookie driver.
Jenson Button entered the Formula One scene in 2000, racing for the Williams team. He ended his debut season with 12 points and came in eighth in the Drivers’ Championship. During the 2001 F1 season, Button drove for Benetton. It was a trying season, and Button only managed to rack up 2 points and came in 17th in the Drivers’ Championship. 2002 was a much better season for the talented driver. Benetton was now named Renault F1 and Jenson Button was racing alongside teammate Jarno Trulli. He certainly improved his standings, taking seventh place at the end of the season.
In 2003, Jenson Button moved to the BAR team, to race beside Jacques Villeneuve. It was a great season for Button, despite a bad crash at Monaco, and he took ninth in the standings with 17 points. Button met with great success in the 2004 F1 season, gaining 10 podium placings and finishing third overall with 85 points. The 2005 season started off dismally, but Button fought back in the second half of the season to come in ninth in the Drivers’ Championship, scoring 36 of 37 points for his team. He continued racing for BAR in 2006, which was now known as Honda Racing F1 Team. A great season, he outperformed his teammate Rubens Barrichello, gaining his first win at the Hungary Grand Prix and finishing sixth overall. Button described his 2007 F1 season as “a total disaster”, though he did manage to show off his talents in China, placing fifth in mixed conditions. The uncompetitive Honda RA 108, meant Button had another unsuccessful season in 2008.
Honda was bought out by Ross Brawn in 2009 and team renamed Brawn GP. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were to continue racing together. 2009 was Jenson Button’s year. He hit the ground running, winning six of his first seven races. Scoring throughout the season, Button took home the championship title.
In November 2009, Jenson Button announced that he would be moving to the McLaren team for the 2010 season, after signing a three-year contract with them. He stated that he was looking forward to competing head-to-head with teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil, on 11 August 1984, Lucas Tucci Di Grassi started his racing career in karting, before moving on to formula racing in 2002, where he completed the Brazilian Formula Renault season in second place, as runner-up to Sérgio Jiminez. In 2003, Di Grassi transitioned to Formula Three, finishing the Formula Three Sudamericana as runner up to Danilo Dirani. He was driving a Dallara F301 Mugen-Honda for Avallone Motorsport at the time.
In 2004 Di Grassi moved to Europe, competing in the British F3 Championship as a driver for Hitech Racing. He earned a podium finish at the Macau Grand Prix – his debut event with Hitech – and finished the season in eighth place. Driving for Manor Motorsport in 2005, Di Grassi finished third in the F3 Euroseries championship.
Moving up to GP2 with Team Durango in 2006, Di Grassi finished the season with eight points at seventeenth in the standings. Driving for ART Grand Prix in 2007, Di Grassi scored points at every race (with the exception of one), pitting him against Timo Glock for the championship. The competition between the two drivers was close virtually up to the end of the season, with Glock winning the title. Di Grassi went on to drive for Campos Racing from round four of the 2008 F2 season, where he replaced Ben Hanley. A collision with Giorgio Pantana at Spa that year resulted in Di Grassi finishing third in the season.
Having served as the third driver for Renault F1 Team in 2009, and achieving third overall in the GP2 series that year, Lucas Di Grassi signed to race for the newly created Virgin Racing team in the 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championships, with his one-time rival Timo Glock as his team-mate.