Honda said it was inevitable, many fans had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but today, Aguri Suzuki withdrew his team from Formula One with immediate effect. This means only 20 cars will run at this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix. The build up to this day has been difficult for Super Aguri, the team having suffered all year with funding problems. The issues arose initially when their primary sponsor SS United defaulted on payments last year, and these issues were compounded when Honda announced they would no longer be offering the kind of support they had previously for 2008. This left Aguri with mounting debts to the automotive giant and finding a new investor was proving problematic.
In order to realise my dream to become an owner of a Formula One team, I applied for a grid position in the FIA Formula One World Championship in November 2005. Since then, I have participated in the championship for two years and four months as the Super Aguri F1 Team, but regretfully I must inform you that the team will cease their racing activities as of today. Aguri Suzuki.
Originally, Suzuki had been negotiating an offer from the Magma Group, headed up by the former president of Ford Europe, Martin Leach. However, Magma’s investors, Dubai International Capital, pulled out at the last minute and left Suzuki high and dry. Since then, German company Weigl had shown interest in buying into the Formula One team, but many suspected they didn’t turn over enough profit to fully fund an operation even of Aguri’s diminutive size. Weigl’s offer was rejected this morning at a meeting with Honda, and now the team have been forced to withdraw.
The team competed against the many car manufacturer-backed teams and have succeeded in obtaining the first points after only the 22nd race finishing in ninth place overall in the 2007 constructors’ championship.
However, the breach of contract by the promised partner SS United Oil & Gas Company resulted in the loss of financial backing and immediately put the team into financial difficulties. Also, the change in direction of the environment surrounding the team, in terms of the use of customer chassis, has affected our ability to find partners.
Meanwhile, with the help of Honda, we have somehow managed to keep the team going, but we find it difficult to establish a way to continue the activities in the future within the environment surrounding F1 and as a result, I have concluded to withdraw from the championship.
I would like to express my deepest thanks to Honda, Bridgestone, the sponsors, all the people who have given us advise during various situations over the past couple of years all the Team Staff who have kept their motivations high and always done their best, Anthony Davidson who has always pushed to the limit despite the very difficult conditions, Takuma Sato who has been with us from the very start and has always fought hard and led the team and lastly our fans from all over the world who have loyally supported the Super Aguri F1 Team. Aguri Suzuki.
As far as I can tell, Suzuki’s cars are still at Honda’s Brackley factory where they were impounded last week, and presumably the transporters currently sitting somewhere outside the Istanbul Park circuit are now heading back to the UK. Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson are now out of jobs and this leaves only three British drivers on the grid (Coulthard, Button and Hamilton) and just one Japanese driver (Nakajima). I would hope that Honda take Davidson back on as a test driver for now, and find a job for Sato as well. Of course, Honda aren’t likely to be obliged to do this, but it was said by Honda that part of any investor’s contract was the retention of Davidson in the team, and Super Aguri was created because of Sato.
Honda had this to say following the announcement from Super Aguri.
The Super Aguri F1 Team’s withdrawal is indeed very disappointing for us but we understand that it was inevitable unless the team could find a way to stand alone by itself in the future.
We would like to express our thankfulness to the Super Aguri F1 Team and all the fans who have supported them for sharing the dreams and fighting together with Honda. Honda Press Statement.
I also presume the Leafield factory, which is leased, now falls to Honda, but the company will undoubtedly be able to do little for the dedicated staff who have shown passion above and beyond through their triumphs and tribulations in running Super Aguri.[poll=11]
Images courtesy of Honda.