SEPANG, Malaysia -- Briton Anthony Davidson will drive for BAR Honda in Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix after Japan's Takuma Sato withdrew on medical advice.
"Takuma developed a fever yesterday evening and after
receiving attention from the Sepang circuit medical center,
appeared to show some signs of recovery," the Honda-powered team
said on Saturday.
"However this morning the fever had started to recur. In view of the fact that this is such a physically demanding race for the driver, the team and Takuma have accepted
the medical team's view that the most sensible course of action
is to retire from the rest of the weekend's running."
Sunday will be Davidson's first race since 2002 when he
replaced Malaysian Alex Yoong at Minardi for two races without
scoring any points. The 25-year-old has been BAR's reserve
driver since 2001.
"Obviously it's jumping straight into the thick of it," said
BAR technical director Geoff Willis. "Neither he, nor we, were
expecting him to be in the car this morning.
"Anthony arrived on Thursday evening but he is very, very
fit at the moment. He's really quite robust and we're sure he'll
be up to it."
Davidson, who had been due to fly back to Europe later on
Saturday to resume testing in France next week, was 10th fastest
in final practice before first qualifying.
Sunday's race could be a big break for the Briton after
coming close to landing a drive last season.
Williams were interested but he was unable to test for them
after BAR made clear they wanted control over his future.
Davidson was also close to securing a drive for Jaguar
before the team was sold to Austrian billionaire Dietrich
Mateschitz and became Red Bull Racing.
Most recently, he has been linked to Swiss-based Sauber as a
possible replacement for Canadian Jacques Villeneuve should the
1997 champion fail to meet performance requirements.
Davidson's management approached Sauber after the Melbourne
season-opener and will talk to them again after Malaysia.
Willis said on Friday however that the driver remained part
of their planning.
"We don't have our driver decisions made for 2006 and
therefore if we had any discussion with Anthony driving for
another team this year, it would only be on the grounds that it
would be for a single year," he said.
Davidson was optimistic his time would come.
"I want to be racing next year, desperate to do it and I
feel I'm more than ready now to do it," he had said on Friday.
"Testing continues to go well and I feel mightily
comfortable here with the team, but I want to be on the grid for
next year wherever that may be.
"I want it so much that all my focus is pinned on that. But
in the meantime, you never know in Formula One."