The Japanese driver was announced earlier this month by the team as part of the its three-car attack on the LMP2 class of the European Le Mans Series for 2023.
Sato will share an Oreca 07-Gibson with Phil Hanson and Oliver Jarvis as he embarks on his first season in sportscars, having focused exclusively on single-seaters up to now.
The 2019 Euroformula Open title-winner made it as far up the ladder as F2, spending two seasons with Trident before switching to the race-winning Virtuosi outfit for 2022, but didn’t manage to improve on his previous best finish of eighth in the feeder series.
Reflecting on why he struggled to make an impact in F2 and on his decision to join United Autosports, Sato is adamant he still has belief in himself as he moves into the ELMS this year.
“I’m not really sure why it didn’t go as well as we thought it would, or we planned,” Sato told Motorsport.com. “But it’s definitely a tough series. It’s 22 of the best young drivers in the world that aren’t in Formula 1, and you get a very limited amount of track time.
“I don’t think I suited the car very well either for several reasons. I can’t lie, I had a really hard time in F2. But I still believe in myself, and that I don’t lack anything in terms of driving ability. I have no doubt about that.
“Now I want to use this opportunity to have a ‘reset’ and move on to the next chapter.”
Sato revealed he has known United Autosports team co-owner Richard Dean for some time, with numerous connections between the two stemming from Dean’s younger years spent racing in Japan.
Expanding on why he felt 2023 was the right time to move to endurance racing, he added: “It felt like a natural thing. Sportscar racing is a big discipline with a lot of manufacturers coming into LMDh and LMH, it feels like it’s getting bigger and bigger every year.
“Previously, I was really just focused on single-seaters, but this year it seemed like the right time to broaden my horizons and take my first steps into sportscar racing in the ELMS and get used to driving with a roof over my head.”
While admitting that he faces a learning curve in sportscars after so many years in single-seaters, Sato says he hopes to learn quickly from his more experienced teammates Hanson and Jarvis, and be fighting for wins from the off.
“There are a lot of things that are different, so I will need some time to learn,” he admitted. “We have to ensure that all three of us can be quick, which is not something I am used to, so I need to learn a lot about that.
“But I don’t want to call it a learning year; I want to perform right from the start.”