• Nov 24th 2006 at 7:26PM
  • 11

You may be shocked and startled to find out that Takuma Sato is among the highest-paid drivers in F1. This despite his dismal driving record, reputation as an irresponsible driver, and inability to hold on to his race seat without protection from his patrons at Honda.

Factoring in his salary from perennial backmarkers Super Aguri, plus his sponsorship contracts – which we'd assume would be substantial given Japan's love of F1 and Sato's standing as Japan's premier racing driver – Takuma pulled in an estimated $7.7 million in 2006. His new team-mate at Super Aguri, meanwhile, will be paid about $250,000 – barely a fraction of Sato's earnings.

That kind of dough puts Takuma in the same earning bracket as world champion Fernando Alonso and ahead of his old team-mate Jenson Button, among many, many other well-reputed drivers.

At this point, Autoblog would like to welcome Super Aguri to hire any member of our writing staff. There are several of us who'd be glad to crash a whole bunch of cars for you for a lot less than $7.7 million!

[Source: F1i]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sato is a huge draw in Japan, hence the dough. What I find more astounding is how LITTLE Davidson is going to get paid. As a test driver, for the last few years, he is ROUTINELY in the top of the Fri practice laps as well as other regular testing. Not race-proven, yes, we know. But certainly worth far more than $250k. Amazing. What a bargain for the Super Best Friends.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think I hear F-1 envy coming from the Autoblog staff.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I have to agree with some of the guys here. Taku is a pretty good driver. He races hard and the proof is there for all to see when he came ahead of the better cars from STR and Midlands towards the end of the season. A lousy driver wouldn't be able to that in the SA05 which was based on a five year old Arrows chassis!
      • 8 Years Ago
      lets not forget that his salary include all his sponsorship endoresment that is why it is high.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I wish Sato and Jenson Button were the real F1 team to represent Honda. Sato, you better get a win next year!!!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Perhaps the $250k is simply his Aguri paycheck while Honda also throw him some money to keep him in the Honda family.

      Sato was getting quite good towards the end of this year though, once he gets a totally new car under him instead of some refurbished old stuff he should actually start earning that money. There are better open-wheel racers in Japan like Satoshi Motoyama for example, but he's totally signed up to be Nissan's #1 plus he's over 30 now so no F1 for him and most of Honda's best Japanese racers are GT racers only, not open-wheel guys.
      • 8 Years Ago

      Terry was being sarcastic. It's good to see all the positive comments about Sato here.

      Sato is a really talented driver, far better than some (ignorant) people make him out to be. I wonder why nobody is labeling Nico Rosberg with terms like "erratic" "dangerous" and "crasher" having retired from 9 of the 18 races, crashing out 5 times and - in the last instance at Brazil - taking out his own teammate. In comparison, Sato only had 1 crash in his first year at Honda, and his other seasons had similarly low crash rates as well. Note that I'm not criticizing Rosberg, just using him as an example to show the double standard that seems to exist. Also, if anyone is curious, take a look at Barrichello's stats for the 2006 season at Honda. In comparison to Sato's first year at Honda, the vastly more experienced Barrichello was not a better performer; he achieved 30 pts to Sato's 34, outqualified Button 10 times to Sato's 8 (when Sato had horrible engine reliability that season). So really, Sato is quite on the pace and competitive with the rest of the field in the right equipment (and sometimes even without!).
      • 8 Years Ago
      Of course, Asians are bad drivers. The thought of some oriental that is half decent at driving on the highest level of motor sports is just too shocking to most so they have to repeat all his mistakes over and over and overlook his achievements completely and attribute his entire existence on them funny Japanese's bloodthirsty nationalism.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Davidson, as Sato is doing, will do quite well due to sponsorship on the home front. Super Aguri isn't capable of paying Sato a large percentage of his income.

      I can understand why they would try, though. They've tried two other Japanese drivers this past year and neither could keep up with Sato at all. Mr. Aguri is trying to appeal to nationalistic sensibilities, so being the best Japanese driver becomes worth much more with his team around. In any case I don't think Sato is that bad. At Honda he took on drivers in cars of similar quality and made races exciting and he does have some great passes to his credit. He was reckless too, but I have a feeling that a year or more in slow-car purgatory will improve his situational awareness. I'm glad he's still in F1.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I loved Sato in his first year at Honda; banzai overtaking maneuvers which even Montoya would be impressed with and was always enthusiastic. He certainly was never up to Button's standards and it was right for him to leave but glad he's still in F1. Let's not forget his 10th place in Brazil, which was somewhat ignored considering all the fuss over a certain person retiring. He finished ahead of the two STRs, two Midlands and Doornbos in the Red Bull with a car that is essentially a 2002 Arrows which wasn't even fast back then, let alone now! Remarkable effort if you ask me.
      • 8 Years Ago
      You have to pay Sato a lot!! Without him to hold up the back of the field and to interfere with race leaders trying to lap him F1 races wouldn't be nearly as exciting!!