Lotus are set to announce their driver line-up on Monday and it’s looking increasingly likely that Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will be named.
Japan had two F1 drivers on the grid in 2009 – Kamui Kobayashi and Kazuki Nakajima. But neither have confirmed drives for next year yet.
The last time an F1 race started without a Japanese driver was the 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, when Anthony Davidson substituted for Sato at BAR.
Sato is still courting a drive for 2010 but the absence of Honda from the sport may hinder his attempts to find a drive – every one of his 90 F1 starts came at the wheel of a Honda-powered car.
Read more: Takuma Sato