The world of F1 is cutthroat and can be considered a constant struggle to stay afloat, particularly for the smaller teams. This week saw the unfortunate withdrawal of the Super Aguri team after what has been a difficult season financially. Obviously the merchandise and sponsorship deals were not forthcoming and the team has been purely keeping their head above water for the last few months.
From today the team will be no more; doubtless, the drivers, fans, sponsors and merchandise producers affiliated with the team will be disheartened by the news, as will the entire F1 fraternity. Nobody likes to see teams going down the pan, whether competitors or not. The complex way F1 is funded through deals with sponsors, backers and merchandise producers has not been able to keep this team going. Unfortunately in the world of F1, this is a common plight for the smaller teams, especially when not backed by a major car manufacturer.
Super Aguri team Principal Aguri Suzuki was recorded as saying that his dream of owning an F1 team had become a reality. After securing sponsorship and merchandise deals and applying for a grid position in 2005, he has managed to last 2 years at the pinnacle of motor sport. As of today unfortunately, the F1 team will be ceasing all racing activities. For many however the situation was unsurprising, Super Aguri took twenty two races to finally place in the points, finishing ninth in 2007. It was not certain however that the team would experience difficulties; it was the loss of a major sponsor that was the straw that broke the camel's back.
This breach of contract by partner SS United Oil and Gas resulted in serious deficiencies financially, that despite other sponsors and merchandise producer's efforts could not be rectified. If it had not been for the help of Honda, the team may have capitulated to the financial pressures sooner. Even this help however was not enough to keep this little F1 team going indefinitely; at some point this bowing to the financial pressure was inevitable.
With the loss of such a predominant financial backer the team's future was seriously called into question. If it had not been for Honda it is doubtful that the team would have been able to compete in Spain a few weekends ago. The team had planned to secure a deal with German automotive firm Weigl AG, it was hoped that this would be the lifeline that would keep Super Aguri afloat. The deal never materialised however and the little team were left stranded with no more money to carry on operating.
Sadly for Anthony Davidson this leaves him without a drive for the rest of the season, whether he will be able to regain an F1 drive is questionable, but support for the British driver will not wan, the fans had been impressed by his performances this season. The team's other driver Takuma Sato may have less difficulty in finding another drive; he has experienced a great level of support from Honda and had been part of Aguri purely because Honda wanted to see him on the F1 grid. Although with understated performances this season, even Honda's support may be faltering.
Aguri Suzuki went further in his statement to the F1 fraternity to thank Honda and Bridgestone as well as the other sponsors and merchandise suppliers. The advice and support had been invaluable to the team that lacked the experience and resources of the larger car manufacturer backed teams. He also thanked the two drivers, Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato, it was with their skill that the team was able to put in the finishes and development that the team needed. Naturally, his greatest thanks was reserved for the many Super Aguri fans around the world, it is doubtless they will be unhappy to witness this capitulation.
Motor Sport expert Thomas Pretty looks into the failure of Super Aguri to compete and how the team's sponsors and F1 merchandise producers will be left in a quandary.