May 06, 2008

Super Aguri Is No More (UPDATED)

It's official: SuperAguri has withdrawn from this season's World Championship.  More to follow after I get back from work.

The Pond is hereby declaring that it is no longer openly rooting for any team on the grid.  This is a sad state of affairs.  When I became a real fan of the sport in 2004, I was drawn to the travails of Zsolt Baumgarter and Minardi.  When Minardi was sold to Red Bull and became Toro Rosso, I shifted my allegiance to the newest team on the grid, SuperAguri.

Honda originally created SuperAguri for one reason only: to give Japanese driver Takuma Sato a drive.  In 2006, driving a modified 2002 Arrows chassis (one of which came from a display in the Melbourne Airport) to begin with, and a newer body later, the team performed like you would expect a starter team to: badly.  Their best finish was 10th in the final race of the year.  While Sato started every race, the other seat was passed between three drivers: "Fast" Yuji Ide (who was so bad he had his provisional SuperLicense revoked after the fourth race of the season), Franck "The Barber" Montagny, and Sakon "No Clever Nickname" Yamamoto.  Nobody expected what would happen in 2007.

The first shock of the 2007 season came in the opening round, when Takuma Sato managed to get into Q3, with his new teammate Ant Davidson qualifying 11th.  The next shock was when Sato earned the team's first championship point by finishing 8th at the Grand Prix of Spain

But the greatest moment in team history had to be the Canadian Grand Prix, where Sato finished 6th, and but for a botched pitstop could have finished as high as fourth.  However, even better than the points was Sato passing both reigning Driver's Champion HWMNBN (earning the "Move of the Race" and drawing crazy cheering from the F1 UPDATE! crew) and eventual 2007 Driver's Champion Kimi Raikonnen for position on track.

That proved to be the highwater mark for the season, as neither driver would finish higher than 11th ever again.  Honda began to withhold car updates (at one point, "accidentally" forgetting to send the team the updated nose construction).  The team's primary sponsor, SS United Group Oil & Gas Company, defaulted on sponsorship payments, forcing the team to lay off 30 workers.  Still, the team showed that it could compete with the big teams, despite having 1/4th the budget and 1/6th the staff of some.

2008 started with financial woes, but things looked hopeful when it was announced that the Magma Group would buy into the team.  That hope died when the deal fell through for reasons unspecified.  Honda, who already had sunk massive amounts of money into the team with no hope of ever recouping its debt, bailed the team out for the Spanish Grand Prix, but then said no more. 

And thus, Super Aguri passed into F1 history, joining such teams as Minardi, Midland, Jordan, Tyrrell, Lotus, and dozens of others.  As of this writing, it is unknown what will happen to the team's drivers, though it would not be surprising for them to be picked up as testers by someone. 

Goodbye, SuperAguri.  You will be missed.

R.I.P. 2006-2008
"Made In Japan"

Posted by: Wonderduck at 07:01 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 547 words, total size 4 kb.

1 A dark day.

Posted by: Vaucanson's Duck at May 06, 2008 09:27 AM (XVJDy)

2 WHY is F1 trying to kill the privateer? This is one of F1's worst policies. What exactly is wrong with customer teams? Not that I want to see the entire field made up of one chassis... but that's an easy rule. The grand and illustrious history of Formula One is filled with successfull privateer teams. Lotus provided chassis to so many teams. So as it stands now, you have to have the backing of a manufacturer in order to compete. This really stinks. F1 can't currently fill a field with cars, and the fans lose. So Aguri joins the ranks of Peter Sauber, Eddie Jordan, Minardi, et al. Max Mosley should be flogged (ooops!)... should be sacked. He's destroying the sport.

Posted by: madmike at May 06, 2008 12:06 PM (o+iiH)


I is a dark day. 



Posted by: Mallory at May 07, 2008 06:57 AM (3sife)

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