Having picked up some precious points early in the season they were consigned to the back of the midfield by the middle of the year. But their drivers put in some noteworthy and spirited performances.
Super Aguri definitely got the better end of the deal to use Honda’s year-old car for 2007 – for most of the year anyway. Super Aguri led their richer siblings in the constructors’ championship up until the penultimate round of the season.
The team hit the ground running with their development of 2006’s RA106. Sato got the team into the final stage of qualifying for the first and thus far only time in Melbourne – the team even confessing they had no plan for what to do because it took them completely by surprise.
For the early part of the year Sato led the way and he gave the team its first ever points finish in the fourth round at the Circuit de Catalunya. Although unusually high attrition was on his side, he impressively beat Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault.
Even better was to follow two races later at Montreal, where Sato was a fantastic sixth. Smart strategy by the team brought him into contention on a chaotic day – and he was even able to pass the floundering Fernando Alonso as the McLaren driver found himself on the wrong tyres.
Davidson, meanwhile, might have even finished on the podium had he not hit an animal that ran onto the circuit. From this point on we began to see a different pattern at Super Aguri – Davidson began to cause more trouble for his team mate, but he also ran into a lot of misfortune.
He’d already suffered two very poor stewarding decisions in the Monaco race before he went hunting the wildlife in Canada. Fisichella took him out at the Hungaroring.
In Istanbul he drove one of the qualifying laps of the season to take 11th on the grid – just barely missing the cut for the top ten – but was delayed by a first-lap crash involving some other drivers during the race.
The team conspicuously failed to capitalise on the series of wet races late in the season when the might have scored a surprise result. Instead it was Jenson Button who played the conditions to perfection at Shanghai, finally hauling Honda ahead of their junior team.
As usual Sato tempered his moments of excellence with some agonising mistakes as well. Already awaiting a punishment for passing under yellow flags at Indianapolis, he spun off the track into retirement having just passed Adrian Sutil.
But on the whole the team got as much out of their package as their meagre resources would allow, particularly given the trouble they ran into with one sponsor not paying them.
It’s difficult to predict exactly what the future holds for the team as it seems bound up with the direction of Honda, who have problems of their own.
They will certainly hope that the resolution of the vexed question over customer chassis allows them to run 2008-spec Hondas next year, as they certainly don’t want to be lumbered with a pair of RA107s.
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