Sato won the title ahead of Davidson that year by a comfortable margin. But Davidson suffered some misfortunes – not least of which being involved in an accident started by his team mate at Donington Park.
By the end of the season Japanese Sato’s Honda connections had bagged him a drive with Jordan for 2002. Davidson also got an F1 break that year – but it was only for two races as stand-in for Minardi’s Alex Yoong at the Hungaroring and Spa-Francorchamps.
Their careers have remained closely intertwined. Sato moved to BAR-Honda at the end of 2003 and raced there while Davidson was test driver. Sato’s team mate, coincidentally, was Jenson Button – Davidson’s old karting rival.
Davidson replaced Sato for one round of 2005, at Sepang, Malaysia, but retired early on with engine failure. At the end of the year Honda dropped Sato but public pressure saw them move him into the new, Honda-powered Super Aguri team.
And now, having come full circle, Davidson and Sato will team up with each other once more. Sato still hasn’t successfully shaken the fast-but-erratic reputation of his Formula Three days – and Davidson is desperate to make the most of the race seat he craved for years.
It may be focussed at the far end of the field, but this is one battle not to miss in 2007.