Honda’s second team in Formula One, Super Aguri, are led by former racing driver Aguri Suzuki. The team was founded a little over a year ago, and it was an incredible achievement that that the diminutive squad even made it to the Bahrain paddock for the start if the 2006 season. But now, one year in, the team have grown and with a seasons experience under their belts, 2007 is going to be an interesting year for the team who are often called Baby Honda.
Super Aguri were one of the first teams out in testing force after the final race in Brazil. The Japanese squad headed over to Spain’s Jerez track to work on developing new parts, and it wasn’t long before British driver Anthony Davidson was annoucned as Takuma Sato’s team mate for this year. The team ploughed on with testing, and soon they started to draw some attention from other personnel in the pitlane.
It would appear that Super Aguri are intending to run a chassis that is essentially last year’s Honda RA106. This has led to wide spread controversy and some team owners have threatened legal action in Australia should Aguri attempt to race such a chassis. But why is this such a problem? Well, the rules state that each team must design their own car. Obviously, some parts are pretty much standard, and some of the rules limit what designers can do, but the blue prints have to be original and the chassis cannot be handed down to other teams.
Is this really such an issue? Well, to those team managers who run private teams where money is typically tight and innovation typically encouraged, I can see why some people are annoyed. Essentially, the Aguri’s are being given a car that should see them make a dramatic improvement over last year, and could even see them challenge the Williams’ and the Toyota’s.
Aside from all this controversy, Super Aguri do appear to have made improvements, and the team certainly learned from all the errors they made in their maiden season. The team convinced Honda to allow a non-Japanese driver to race, thus relinquishing the need for an Ide or Yamamoto. Instead, they have chosen long-term Honda tester Davidson, who has been doing a sterling job for the small outfit all winter.
The team are still to launch their 2007 challenger, and Aguri has hinted that it could be very late, possibly even at Melbourne. This obviously causes concern, but the team have been running an interim car all winter. But it is hard to come to any conclusion about Super Aguri simply because of the lack of knowledge on the new car. If it does turn out to be a modified version of the Honda RA106 (and they are allowed to race it), the team should see a substantial improvement which could place them above the Spykers. However, if the team run their own chassis the story could be very different. What’s more, their nearest rivals (Spyker) have acquired the services of a man who is known to turn teams around – Mike Gascoyne.
Aguri need to be smart and quick out of the box if they are going to finish anywhere other than last place. They have everything to win and little to lose in 2007, and they will be interesting to watch as the season unfolds.
2007 Constructors Prediction: 9th