Its Takuma Sato-led, plucky on-track efforts a delight to fans in its short history, Honda-powered private Formula One team Super Aguri has faced its largest battles with financing. Now word comes that negotiations for acquisition by would-be...
Its Takuma Sato-led, plucky on-track efforts a delight to fans in its short history, Honda-powered private Formula One team Super Aguri has faced its largest battles with financing.
Now word comes that negotiations for acquisition by would-be white knight investors fronted by Magma Group have broken down. That leaves team owner and former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki pondering whether the team can continue. A statement from the team Wednesday indicated Suzuki continues to talk to others who might be interested in picking up the considerable load of F1 finance.
Reuters reported a team source suggested the pull-out jeopardizes the team's participation in the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona at the end of the month. The team has not appeared at testing this week at the Circuit de Catalunya.
While searching for investment through the close season, the team was unable to participate fully in winter testing and reportedly cut an already minimalist staff by a further 20 employees.
The investors who pulled out of an expected deal are thought to be Dubai International Capital, which recently dropped a bid to acquire Liverpool Football Club. DIC is the international investment arm of Dubai Holding, which is owned by the government of Dubai. Dubai secured a future with Formula One in February 2007 when F1 commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone signed a contract to stage F1 races at the Dubai Autodrome in Abu Dhabi from 2009.
London-based Magma Group is headed by Martin Leach, a former executive for Ford, Maserati and Mazda, who has extensive ties to Formula One.
Super Aguri scored four points in the 2007 to finish ninth in the FIA World Constructors' Championship. Three of those points were earned by Sato at the Canadian Grand Prix, where he put a famous pass for position on defending world champion Fernando Alonso in a McLaren.
The team's 2006 debut owed much to Japanese fervor to continue the F1 career of Sato, who had lost his Honda drive. Honda played -- and continues to play -- a significant part in Super Aguri's existence. The team's chassis is a Honda hand-me-down. Thus Super Aguri, which occupies the former Arrows factory in Leafield, England, faces another obstacle when 2010 rules will mandate that teams build their cars. Super Aguri started with a 2002 Arrows chassis.