The 44-year-old Japanese racer has had one hell of a career, and this year may have been his last year in open wheel racing. After a seven-year sojourn in Formula One that saw only one podium and oh so many retirements, Takuma Sato joined the IndyCar grid to minimal fanfare. After twelve seasons in the series, the Honda-supported driver has seen victory lane six times, twice at the Indianapolis 500. The 2021 season was not his best effort, never finding a finish position higher than fourth.
The going rumor, supported by Racer.com, which is usually right about these kinds of things, is that Sato’s replacement will be the recently exited Meyer Shank Racing driver Jack Harvey. Interestingly, it looks like Graham Rahal will be staying with the team, despite not having won a race in the last four seasons. I guess it helps to have your name on the building. In fact, Sato has secured all of RLL’s victories in the four seasons he’s been on the roster.
According to a conversation with Racer, Taku san only views his chances of securing a ride in IndyCar for the 2022 season as fifty-fifty. Maybe he’s right, but it’s probably less than that. The season is already over and most teams already have their contracts secure, so it would have to be a pretty late-in-the-game signing to get on the grid next year. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve it, but if racing was actually merit-based it wouldn’t be the flawed series we know and love(?).
Anyone who has raced in 198 IndyCar races and 90 starts in Formula One, has secured two Indy 500 victories, and been a household name in Japan for over twenty years can absolutely retire with their head held high. I hope Taku san knows how much the racing community appreciates him.