As we all know, Formula One team Super Aguri have been supported in the past by automotive giant Honda, and essentially the small outfit was considered the Japanese squad’s B-team. However, with a change to the customer-car rules due to be implemented prior to the 2010 season, Honda have decided that they can no longer support the team. I’m sure the reasons run much deeper than that and finances play a big part of the sudden turn-around, but alas the news has left Aguri in a bit of a state. Searching for a potential investor, team owner and former racing driver Aguri Suzuki had managed to cobble together a deal with the Magma Group. However, it all went wrong when Magma’s investors backed out. Now Aguri is working closely with the Weigl group, but all I’m getting from the Honda camp is a bad vibe. In fact, it is bordering on negativity just for the sake of being negative.
It seems as though HondaF1 CEO Nick Fry has something to say, and is being quite persistent in saying it.
I am aware that Aguri Suzuki is continuing to look for an investor and we wish him well. Since we have been looking for a partner for over a year, unfortunately, it would seem unlikely that someone appropriate is going to appear in the next 48 hours. Nick Fry.
Pitpass have speculated that Super Aguri owe Honda somewhere around the $100m mark, and that the loan is secured against the factory, cars and other equipment. Today, it emerged that Super Aguri have been refused entry into the Istanbul paddock, and Pitpass believe the Super Aguri cars are being sent to the Honda factory. According to Autosport, the motorhome and spare-parts truck have been refused entry because Fry had told FOM the team wouldn’t be racing in Turkey. Apparently, Super Aguri are parked up somewhere outside the circuit grounds while they wait for further news.
So as Fry doesn’t believe Super Aguri can find an investor has he decided to start recouping the loan? It seems particularly harsh, especially when the team are currently in the process of negotiating a possible deal. But Fry had more to say on the Weigl deal.
It would appear unlikely that a company the size of Weigl is able to support a competitive Formula One team, unless of course there are other partners of which we have not been made aware. Nick Fry.
It sounds to me like Honda really don’t want Super Aguri to sort themselves out and pay back the money they owe. Instead, Honda would rather push Aguri harder until they eventually fall over, and then seize their assets, much like how a bully behaves in the school playground. Considering Super Aguri was originally set up to appease the Japanese fans who were upset when Honda signed Rubens Barrichello instead of Takuma Sato, Honda appear to now be turning their backs on those whom they profess to love so much.[poll=10]
It’s a difficult poll question. I don’t want to think that Nick Fry is simply trying to take Super Aguri’s assets for his own team, and I will concede that Honda appear to be owed a lot of money. But surely it would make more sense to keep things ticking over, at least until the Honda top brass can be consulted for an opinion next week? I can see Nick getting into serious (as in post-ending) trouble if his anti-Aguri attitude is not echoed by the Honda board.
That Nick would act at this time leads me to think that he really doesn’t want Super Aguri on the grid for some reason. I’m just not sure whether the motive is asset-seizure, bad judgement or something else. I hope it’s the latter and that he changes his mind in time for Super Aguri to be saved.
Now this may not be correct information but I read somewhere this weekend that the Weigl group is a company with annual sales somewhere in region of US$200 mil. Does not look to me as a company with enough cash to support F1 team, when even a team of a size of Force India burns 150 mil a year … yes, there may be some investors behing the Weigl deal. but so they were behind the Magma deal … I am not surprised Fry does not trust the deal too much, but I also wonder why he is all of a sudden so eager to bury Aguri without waiting for what will come out of the Weigl talks. At the end what has he got to loose if he gives them 2-3 more days …
Spyker made the mistake of going in with too little money (the year that ended with them buying Midland was the first year that incarnation of the company had ever been in profit) and then was surprised to discover that the $14m they put into the team in the subsequent year put Spyker on its knees… While Weigl appears to be a bit more profitable than Spyker, I can sort of see your point. Still, it has to worth a try, surely? Otherwise Honda’s debt will simply go bad and they will be blamed for it by the Japanese, which would do them no favours.
Honda are not after securing the assets of Super Aguri for themselves. The team has no real assets as the factory is rented, the few cars in existence are of no real use to the Honda racing team and the motor home and car transporters of very little value when compared to the loan/debt. There really isn’t much else…
When title sponsor SS United defaulted on payment of tens of millions of dollars Super Aguri could not pay back Honda the loans/fees for engines and technical assistance. At that time the writing was on the wall, either find a new owner/investor to clear the debt or wrap up the team. I think Honda now consider that time has run out.
One thing is for sure, Nick is acting for Honda and not off his own bat.
It looks to me like Honda are doing a Japanese “saving face” routine by getting someone else to be seen to deal the fatal blow. Time will tell…
yes, that is exactly my point, what does Fry have to loose by giving Aguri / Weigl few more days to show him the money …
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But I have this sinking feeling that Nick Fry’s stand is backed (or maybe even forced) by the Honda brass in Japan. As I said over at F1Fanatic, Honda want Aguri sold on their terms. Honda want most or all of the cash upfront. If Aguri can’t sell themselves, then Honda will do it for them. Aguri is concerned about time, but Honda is concerned about the cash.
I don’t think Honda are ever going to see any of that $100M loan and they no doubt have known this for a while.
Super Aguri are trying to blackmail Honda into financing the team outright with some smaller sponsor giving a bit extra here and there.
The relationship between Honda and SA has been one sided right from the start with all the expertise and money flowing away from the works team and towards Aguri. The only thing that Honda ever got out of the deal was to keep Sato in a race seat. SA’s loyalty to its “parent” company did not extend to not reveling about “trashing the works team” last season and that can’t have made them any friends in Tokyo.
SA have never paid their bills and have been singularly unconcerned about money, choosing instead to concentrate on racing. “Honda will provide” has been the attitude from day one.
SA was never economically viable in the first place, but now with the customer car situation having changed, SA need a real sponsor that can provide a couple of hundred million dollars a year to develop a chassis and meet operational costs.
Honda does not want to finance an entire second team. SA is not coming up with a solution out of their current predicament and Honda can see that no sponsor is going to be found, ever.
They are doing the logical thing, which is to call it quits.
The refusal to allow Super Aguri to enter the track at Istanbul means only one thing, Honda do not want Super Aguri on site when the management decide to reject Weigl’s offer and pull the plug on Tuesday. It’s less embarrassing that way.
Great comments guys. Regarding the possible embarrassment from Aguri should the deal be rejected by Honda, I think Honda are causing most it themselves by doing just what they’re doing. Unfortunately, this week has shown just how short-sighted the Honda company is. Undoubtedly Aguri have been given plenty of time to sort themselves out, but this action is surely far worse (media-wise) than perhaps the odd prank done by a [essentially] disgruntled ex-employee. I liked Sato’s use of the phrase “Racing Spirit” he mentioned in his interview. The man towed the corporate line, but subtly gave Honda a soft left-hook in his comments. I guess it all comes down to tomorrow, unless they decide to prolong the deciding/announcement-of-decision* even further.
*Delete as you see applicable.
Well friends, it seems the curtain has now fallen on this one.
Whilst I love nothing more than the fighting spirit in a team like Aguri, you would have to say from Fry’s point of view he is likely trying to get Honda to loose off the “dead wood” and confirm total support for his own project as he feels Aguri is a drain on resources.
If you look at the history of Honda in the recent period, they re entered with BAR in 2000, only to shortly spread themselves too thinly by supplying Jordan as well, once they dropped Jordan’s supply, we saw a boost in competitiveness.
Then, just on the verge of a breakthrough in pace, they take on a B-team, which co-incided with another dip in performance.
Perhaps Honda have now realised, that to be at the front, you need to do what the front teams do, Ferrari, McLaren and BMW have no B-teams, the German marques opt to not even supply customer engines. There has to be method in this.
A sad loss for me as Im sure for many people, however if we get one competitive team out of it, fighting for wins, at the end of the day I think F1 will be the better for it.
On the flip side of this, there are some good opportunities to be taken up, Toyota would score a massive moral victory in Japan if they secured Sato as test driver, likewise, if I were the top teams I would be seriously considering signing Davidson as a tester
🙁 Super Aguri have announced their withdrawal. Still think it was a completely stupid way for Honda to approach the matter, which indicates to me that Honda probably doesn’t deserve to have one F1 team, never mind the two it had until this morning.
[…] racing in Turkey and shouldn’t be allowed to enter the Istanbul Park circuit. And HondaF1 CEO Nick Fry has been talking to the press an awful lot recently about Super Aguri, a team which he has not, did not and will now […]