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Honda Pressure Aguri To Retain Davidson

Honda Pressure Aguri To Retain Davidson

Aguri Suzuki - Super AguriDuring Honda’s launch of their 2008 car, chief executive Nick Fry spoke about the continued support of Super Aguri and how the squad are looking for an investor to help fund the future of the team. While Super Aguri’s position was known previously, it was presumed that both current drivers would be safe at the squad. However, the search for money could come from another driver bringing sponsorship with him. One name that has been spoken a fair amount is India’s Narain Karthikeyan. However, Honda are pressuring Super Aguri to retain Anthony Davidson, explaining that the Briton gives excellent feedback, helpful in the developing of the chassis.

Although both drivers were named on the official FIA press statement detailing the entrants for 2008, Super Aguri quickly went on record to state that they were still negotiating contracts.

To ensure that the engineering feedback is consistent, you have got to have people who are of a standard. Anthony is definitely one of the people who is of that standard. I would not personally be convinced that the driver you mentioned [Karthikeyan] would be of an acceptable standard for us.

The intent for 2008 is that Aguri will be on the grid but clearly what Ross [Brawn] and I need to do, and are doing, is ensure that doesn’t detract from our primary job. At this stage, the intent is that they will be on the grid with Honda engines and support. Exactly how much of that support comes from here is being worked on at the moment. Nick Fry.

At the moment we would like to stay with the same drivers. Takuma is the reason why this team exists and Davidson is Honda’s preferred driver. But we are also looking for a strong partner. If they bring a lot of money and they want a driver from wherever, then he has to be good and accepted by the FIA. Daniel Audetto of Super Aguri.

I’m sure Honda will get their way and Davidson will be in an Aguri on the Australian grid, but the future of the team is in question, including the employment of the drivers.

Oliver White

11 comments

  • I don’t know why teams continue to use the paying driver option – I know of no occasion when a team has survived thanks to the money received from a pay driver. Invariably, it is a sign that the team is desperate and about to go under. Can you think of a team that has continued for long after taking the pay driver route?

    If Honda are that determined to keep Sato in F1, they should foot the bill indefinitely. Then, if SA manage to find other sponsors, fine; but, if not, at least the team can be assured of its future.

    Well, until Sato decides to retire, that is. What happens then, I wonder…

  • Sato isn’t a spring chicken either, celebrating his 31st birthday yesterday. I’m guessing Super Aguri realise this (among other things) and are looking for a way to fund the team after he retires and Honda eventually pull out, or at least put a cap on their ‘support’.

    Regarding pay drivers, I would have to agree that going down the route doesn’t always work. For teams like Minardi it was a good way to get extra funds, and with a slew of minor sponsors they were able to continue, albeit at the back. And I’m sure some pay-drivers have turned out okay, I believe Barrichello started out paying for his ride.

    What Aguri managed in 2006 and 2007 was incredible, but I’m getting a whiff of Honda not wholly enjoying the outlay the team needs. This whole issue screams of Honda wanting to limit their involvement, particularly if the customer-chassis rules are not changed in the near future. Being taken to court is one helluva pill to swallow.

  • the achievments of Aguri in 2006 were incredible. When judging their 2007 season one has to remember they started with a pretty good 2006 Honda car. As the season went on, they were slipping down the grid. They simply picked up what Honda left behind and did not improve it much …

    I would not be so sure Honda will get their way and keep Davidson on the grid. They might, but at the end it will all come down to money. If they will be willing to pay all SA bills, then SA will run whomever Honda tells them, But if SA has to look for resources outside of Honda family, they may have to listen to demands of new investors.

    Also, we may not be talking here about pay driver as we know them from Minardi days. Minardi simply gave seats to drivers who brought the money. Now there is a talk about investor coming to buy part of the team, and that investor sure will want to have some say over drivers line up. The talk is about an Indian company … One Indian company runs F1 team already and selected drivers based on the skills (or whatever it was in case of Fisi 🙂 ). The other may want to enter simply to bring Indian driver back on the grid for PR reasons … This happened before, remember why Super Aguri was conceived …

  • I’ve just had a slightly scary thought – according to milos’ definition, Renault has just taken on a pay driver. Nelson Piquet Jr is there because the sponsorship consortium helping to pay for Alonso demanded his presence on the race team (otherwise Renault would not have been in a position to get Alonso, and Flavio wouldn’t have been a happy bunny). As a result, Piquet Jr. is paying for Alonso to be there. Since Renault, unlike Super Aguri, are not in the start-up phase (where pay drivers are pretty common), does that mean Renault are going to withdraw?

    As for Super Aguri, since they’ve put Anthony Davidson on the FIA entry form, I think they’re stuck with him unless they can find a way of breaking his contract. One court case is bad enough without the CRB hauling Super Aguri in for another…

  • the fact that Davidson is on the entry list does not mean anything. at the time the entry list was published by FIA Super Aguri came out saying that none of their 2 drivers has been signed yet. and all the teams can still change the drivers. I think the deadline is the start of the season but I am not 100% sure

  • @Milos: Good comment. I say Aguri’s 2007 season was incredible based on the fact they were hurriedly put together the year previous and managed four points in ’07. Of course, Jordan did pretty well in their first season with a totally new car, so maybe I was a little hasty in my description of their achievements last year. Still, a pretty good effort considering they’re based in a bungalow in the middle of nowhere (still can’t get my head around that one). 😀

    @Alianora: I wouldn’t be surprised if Renault quit at the end of the season. Or when Alonso and Briatore leave. They’ve never given off a in it for the long haul vibe.

    As far as I understand it, neither SA driver (at the time the FIA released the entry list) had a contract signed. Of course Sato will eventually be announced, but Davidson is questionable. I believe the team said at the time that both drivers would more than likely be retained, and so the FIA slapped the two names down. However, the team can change their line-up at any point up until the start of qualifying I think. I believe they may now be limited as to how many changes they can make in a season, and of course changes require consent and/or money for the dis-serviced party.

  • Just to confound my original argument, there was a team that employed a pay driver and went on to win races and the championship. Brabham did it when Bernie was in charge – he employed Hector Rebaque as No. 2 to Nelson Piquet to top up the coffers.

    It’s not a good example, however, as Bernie didn’t really need the money – he’s just tight. 😉

  • If a team puts a driver’s name down on the FIA entry list, the FIA assumes that there is either a contract already or that a contract will come. I’ve never heard of it permitting a driver to be changed once the entry list is in, apart from contract breaches and filling-in of TBA slots. That said, I’m struggling to think of any examples when anyone tested this rule…

  • Maybe I’m not fully getting what you’re saying Ali, so apologies in advance if I am getting the wrong end of the stick. But…

    …Villeneuve replaced Trulli at Renault for the final race of ’04 or ’05, Kubica replaced Villeneuve in the BMW mid-2006 (and I don’t think injury stands up anymore; the replacement became permanent-to-date). Albers got the bump last year due to sponsorship issues as well, although arguably this constitutes a contract breach possibly.

    There have been loads of driver switches mid-season, mostly centered around money and performance. Recently it hasn’t happened as much, but it used to be quite regular in the nineties, particularly in the mid-lower teams.

  • Sorry, Ollie, for wording my thoughts badly. I’ll try to clear up what I meant. A driver can leave a team once his name is entered with the FIA only if a contract clause is invoked or a mutual settlement is agreed (I think this is what I was trying to get at with the “breaches” thing…) This is relatively new; the CRB only came about in the second half of 2001.

    The Trulli and Villnueve affairs could be classed contract clause triggers. Renault got away with dismissing Trulli (nominally on performance grounds) thanks to some complicated negotiating with Toyota to let him drive for them early. Since Trulli was happy to be out of Renault by then (as long as he was racing somewhere), and da Matta’s contract was terminated on performance grounds to make way, the FIA couldn’t intervene.

    Something similar happened with Villenueve, in that his boss had been looking for ways to replace him for a while and took the smallest opportunity with both hands. Absenteeism from one specific test led to his dismissal (at least on paper). He’d probably have got away with missing just the race, but would he have wanted to with the way BMW-Sauber didn’t really want him there?

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