Super Aguri leave Formula 1

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

After months of doubt over their future, Super Aguri team boss Aguri Suzuki has finally bowed to the inevitable and withdrawn his team from Formula 1.

It comes two days after it was revealed Super Aguri’s transporters had been barred from entering the Istanbul paddock ahead of this weekend’s Grand Prix. It emerged that Honda, who were istrumental in funding and setting up the team, did not want to incur any further costs from supporting them, and were not convinced by the Weigl Group’s efforts to save the team.

It’s bitterly disappointing to see F1 lose another team. I’d like to give my sympathy with the team’s dedicated staff (who are based at Leafield in Oxfordshire), who worked so hard to get Super Aguri on the grid in the first place, and kept them going despite being one of F1’s least well funded teams.

The sport is poorer without them, and their drivers Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson.

35 comments on “Super Aguri leave Formula 1”

  1. It’s a shame. Honda did not do its best to help Aguri survive.

  2. Sorry about linking up on the other post Keith, you must have been writing this article in the process.

    Can we have a minutes silence today for them?

  3. Not at all Sush, tips are always welcome, thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Should be interesting to see what reaction Honda will get at Fuji. Will their form have improved enough for them to get massive support? Or will it have stayed poor, allowing people to remember this Super Aguri saga?

  5. As for Taku and Ant, what now? Rubens would have wanted Super Aguri to stay alive – as it is, he now has 2 more contenders for his seat!

  6. ahh well. sadly they had it coming… after all they had the gaul to show up the honda ‘A’ team on a fraction of the budget last year.

  7. Whilst I believe that Honda may have been able to do more to save Aguri, I feel quite a lot of sympathy for them.

    I believe the main factor that resulted in Super Aguri going bust was the FIA u-turn on customer cars. Had they been allowed this year as originally planned, Honda would have effectively had a four car team and Super Aguri’s future would have been secure. I don’t think we can blame Honda for the ambiguity surrounding the Concorde Agreement.

    Also, Super Aguri ran out of money because
    a) Their main sponsor (SS United) defaulted on payments
    b) They couldn’t find a replacement
    c) Magma pulled out of a deal they worked hard to put together.

    Honda aren’t to blame for any of those things, so although they might have been able to do more to save Aguri, I think it is unfair to suggest they are villains in the saga.

  8. Keith, check out the bottom paragraph on this link.

    hardcore comment.
    http://www.f1technical.net/news/9013

    its all speculation when it comes to website’s stating “a source” … but still, hardcore.

  9. MartyP is right, Honda are not the villians here. But now that Super Aguri has folded, and all of Honda’s resources are with Honda, they better improve their form. And about contenders for Rubens Barrichello’s seat…Takuma Sato may get that seat back again, but only if Rubens retired as the end of this year. I don’t think Anthony Davidson has a chance to stay in Formula One as a race driver, shame as he really deserves it. He will probably return as a test driver.

  10. I also feel the bad feeling toward Honda is a little misplaced. They are trying to run a business after all. I echo the sentiment that the ban on customer cars effectively put Super Aguri to bed. It’s a real shame, in my opinion, that Toro Rosso are under pressure because they’re not a factory outfit. What does F1 management hope to gain from bringing this limitation in?

  11. MartyP, MSmith, what I don’t understand is Honda are effectively writing off 100mil of investement by rejecting the Wiegl deal.

    Also, Aguri Suziki has been quoted as saying “Nick Fry isn’t the CEO so I don’t know why he’s making all these comments”.

  12. Surely Honda could have tried harder, though, and let the Wiegl Group try to rescue Super Aguri. At worst, Honda would have been in the situation it was in yesterday down the line, and in the meantime it could have recouped some of its costs for setting up Super Aguri. This approach of stopping Super Aguri after it had gone to so much effort to get a partner was just wasteful of Honda.

  13. Yow! Hot stuff, sush! But why would he do it? And if that’s true, is Fry the sole assassin, so to speak? It’s JFK in Dallas all over again.

  14. Oops, make that ‘lone assassin’. Edit button, where art thou? Hehehe.

  15. on a humurous note, Force India has worked that HARD over winter so they could stay at the back of the grid.

  16. Robert McKay
    6th May 2008, 15:59

    Who is going to be everyone’s loveable minnows now? Heck, we barely have any minnows, let alone loveable ones….

  17. haha Rob. more importantly, whose gonna keep David Coulthard company at the back of the field?

  18. I think minardi should come back into f1.davidson could be a driver because he raced for minardi before in 2002 but im not sure who could partner him…any ideas?

  19. Maybe Honda rejected the Wiegl investment because they just got too sick of supporting Super Aguri constantly. The Wiegl deal would have kept SA in Formula One, but I doubt that SA would have been able to sustain itself for long. Maybe Honda thought this too, and just cut it off short…

  20. Is it wrong or unusual for a team to take a year off to sort out development or finances? Mind, from reading Aguri’s little farewell message on the official website (http://www.saf1.co.jp/en/topics/2008/nws_080506.html) I don’t think it’s going to happen like that, but, was it at least a likelihood, had they wanted it?

    I suppose the rest of this saga is going to be about the closing and sale of the UK facilities and properties to try to recoup costs.

    In fact, next step is bankruptcy court if they haven’t been there already.

  21. Simon Robertson
    6th May 2008, 19:48

    A sad day for F1….In there short life SA boxed above their weight. To all the team i salute you…

  22. Robert McKay
    6th May 2008, 20:16

    On a tangential note, probably makes Q1 even more difficult to get out of…if I understand correctly, instead of 6 cars dropping out Q1 and Q2 to leave 10 for Q3, just 5 cars will drop out of those two sessions.

    Given that you’ve lost the two slowest (who would be on the back of the grid) but one less car is eliminated, it probably means there is an extra space for a “surprise” drop-out each weekend. And given how close that midfield is, with Fisi always threatening to make Q2 and one of the STR’s usually making it, that’s going to be really tricky.

    Probably bad news for DC, given his recent inability to get out of Q1 even WITH Super Aguri there.

  23. Its a shame when we just recently thought some good news was appearing in F1 for a change – it isn’t just Honda or weigl’s last ditch effort not being enough it’s a cummlative result of lack of decision making by the fia and manufacturers to see this coming – the concorde agreement stops customers cars and protects some lesser teams from having to compete with even smaller teams(frank are you listening?)
    but worst of all – who will be next!!

  24. Pour some gasoline out for me homies.

  25. Although not surprised this does come as disappointing news. Probably a pathetic and completely worthless observation, but I’m surprised few have mentioned Ross Brawn and what-if any-part he may have had in this. You have to admit the timing is pretty remarkable…Nick Fry is certainly not the Honda CEO, but I imagine he and Brawn have some pull in decisions around the team.

  26. A replacement Concorde agreement should have been finalised at least 12 months ago and should have come into force the moment the previous one expired. This maybe/maybe not culture we’re now in simply isn’t good news for anybody, and I include the fans in that. I’m generally not in favour of the customer cars idea, but I think the FIA should have been able to decide against it much sooner, or at least have better anticipated the legal backlash from Spyker and Williams.

    Granted, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    I don’t blame Honda for what has happened. They’ve done more than they were obligated to do in order to help. SS United and the FIAs inconsistency on the customer car rules are the main causes.

  27. I’m with ya Dan M.(guess you’re American)

  28. Sush, maybe the source was an employee at a photocopy shop ;)

    Seriously, this is extremely bad news for the team, staff, F1 and fans. The FIA just should not have allowed the customer car saga to drag on like this so that things escalated to this level. Pure incomptence.

  29. I bet Bernie’s starting to get a bit concerned

  30. I am really sorry to see them go, especially after their performances last year. Does anybody know what will happen to Sato and Davidson?

  31. @chunter – Super Aguri stopped all activities as of yesterday … that does not look like taking a time off …

    The option to miss out on few races while looking for cash was still there … But likely there were no funds to keep the team going even without racing, salaries would still need to be paid … Once Honda says firmly “no more cash from us” there is not much that can be done. Weigl proposal would have worked if there was cash on the table right away, and that probably was not the case …

    I will miss Sato …

  32. “MartyP, MSmith, what I don’t understand is Honda are effectively writing off 100mil of investement by rejecting the Wiegl deal.”

    They aren’t writing off the investment, as closing off SA makes much more financial sense instead of hoping that a sponsor would jump into the debt-laden team and somehow pay Honda back. With the team, cars, contracts, staff and facilities now going back to Honda, they can either incorporate it into their team or turn around and sell the package (along with the teams entry) for $100M or more, thus coming out even.

    SA were being funded out of Honda F1 – as opposed to Honda proper, which is why the parent company were quiet on the issue in the past few weeks (but undoubtedly had a say in the background).

    The key cause here is the decision from the FIA on customer cars, since if customer cars were allowed Honda would have had more incentive to fund the team as a development/test branch. Without customer cars, SA would have to stand on their own – hence their frantic search for a primary team sponsor.

    It just seems that having 12 constructor teams in F1 just isn’t financially viable – so something will need to be done either with budget caps or with customer cars (eg. allowing a single ‘B’ team per constructor)

  33. I’m fairly certain SA are done for good, I just asked for the sake of wondering if there is a precedent for that sort of thing.

  34. There’s precedent for trying to resurrect teams, but the pedigree isn’t very good.

    Andrea Moda took over Coloni’s F1 equipment and entry in what was supposed to be a smooth transfer at the end of 1991. Unfortunately Andrea Moda’s boss, Andrea Sassetti, failed to check the small print and discovered that he hadn’t actually bought the entry. This set the tone for the most embarrassing team F1 has ever had.

    The Phoenix Group bought Prost out in 2001, this time including its entry. The trouble was that they bought them in a disputed auction (their bid was believed to be far below several rejected offers) and the FOM decided not to let them race until the legality or otherwise of the purchase was ascertained. It didn’t help that the Phoenix Group didn’t make it to Melbourne anyway, so the FOM simply claimed that its excuse for missing it wasn’t good enough when the transporters attempted to enter the Sepang circuit. The cars didn’t even get that far because they had the wrong carnet and were therefore impounded at the local airport… Needless to say, the Phoenix Group’s attempt to re-enter F1 collapsed soon after.

  35. I am worried that Super Aguri going is just the start of the end of Independant teams (big or small)in F1. I think Honda didn’t want to spend more time and money with them as they would have to give it up next year with the new ‘Customer’ rules being enforced, and if there’s no buyer this year, then what are the chances next year?
    This spells the end of Torro Rosso too – Red Bull are looking for buyer, but is there anybody out there willing to spend the cash needed to keep an F1 team going?
    As I say, I think that with the unknown costs of KERS, Bernie’s ever increasing fees and the high monetry penalties being enforced for misdemeanors, I can even see Williams and Red Bull being forced out too – especially if Max and Bernie revamp the ‘Customer’ rules to include engines….
    Which will leave a very small grid indeed. And I can see McLaren, Honda and Toyota leaving through lack of enthusiasm since the races would soon degrade into the predicable processions of the bad 80s and 90s, although if I read between the lines of the official statements, this is what Bernie and Max are after – very strange!

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