Sato delighted with top five finish on first Andretti appearance

Takuma Sato claimed fifth in his first with Andretti Autosport - Credit: Joe Skibinski / IndyCar

Takuma Sato was in contention for a podium finish throughout the season opening race at St. Petersburg but was forced to settle for fifth, with a pit stop issue seeing him lose ground to Scott Dixon before team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay passed him at the end for fourth.

The Andretti Autosport driver was delayed in the pits when his front right tyre took a long time to be changed during his final pit stop that allowed Dixon to escape in third, while Hunter-Reay caught and passed Sato at the line, the two finishing just 0.0528 seconds apart.

Sato praised his team-mates for all the help they have given the Japanese racer on his first weekend with the team, and he was happy that he and Hunter-Reay gave the team two finishers inside the top five.

“I think it was a tremendous effort by everyone on the team,” said Sato. “I’ve probably had one of the hardest Fridays, so it was a difficult and challenging weekend.

“I definitely think my team-mates helped me and the whole engineering team. Given the circumstances I think we did the best we could in qualifying and I was extremely happy with the result.

“Today was a tough race, but I think a fourth and fifth finish for Andretti Autosport is a fantastic result, especially for my first race with the team.”