A new Japanese team has lodged its entry for the 2006 Formula One World Championship, it was announced at a press conference in Tokyo on November 1st. Honda-powered 'Super Aguri Formula One' is headed by former racer Aguri Suzuki and will, should its application be successful, become the 11th team on the grid. The last new entrant to the championship was Toyota in 2002.
"We have cleared all the hurdles we had to clear up to this point," said Suzuki. "Obviously there is a huge amount of work left but we plan to be on the grid in 2006… We have the technical cooperation of Honda behind us so we are confident of achieving our dream of competing in Formula One."
No drivers were announced but the fledgling team is in talks with Takuma Sato, who has been ousted from his BAR race seat by Rubens Barrichello. "We are at a nice stage in talks with Takuma," said Suzuki. "I'd like to see him racing with a good team and he'll want that too. Our goal is to build a team he will want to drive for."
BAR tester Anthony Davidson has been linked with the new team as well as Kosuke Matsuura, who competed in IRL for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing this year. But for the moment the main task in hand is to get the outfit operational and focus on drivers at a later date. "Right now we are in a race with time and we have other priorities," Suzuki commented.
It appears the team will have its headquarters in Tokyo but the factory will be housed at the old Arrows base in Leafield, UK. However, Suzuki must await word from the FIA. "Approval from the FIA is not in our control but we expect to hear at the end of this month," he said. "We have to abide by the rules and we are still exploring all possible options."
Bridgestone has reportedly offered its services as tyre partner, which would be Suzuki's preference, and Honda will supply the engines. Suzuki dismissed suggestions that the new squad would be a Honda 'B' team. "We are a Japanese team, that's very important," he said. "But we aren't Honda's B-team by any means. Our goal is to have the Japanese rising sun raised above the podium."
Speculation has it that Japanese conglomerate Softbank would be a major backer of Super Aguri but so far no sponsors have been officially confirmed. Suzuki is aware of the financial commitment needed and said he is in talks with sponsors but cannot comment until the team gets the FIA's seal of approval.