Analysis: Aguri must wait on 2008 plans

Super Aguri have overcome plenty of challenges to become world championship points scorers in Formula One, so it is no surprise to find them bullish about clearing the latest pitfalls standing in their way

Analysis: Aguri must wait on 2008 plans

Having created a Formula One team from scratch in just a handful of months before the 2006 season, the Leafield-based team surprised many by scoring several points last year en route to ninth place in the constructors' championship.

But despite that promise, and securing the continued backing of Honda at a recent board meeting of the Japanese manufacturer, the team are aware that financial difficulties and continued uncertainty over the future of customer cars has left them with plenty of work to do before the start of 2008.

However, managing director Daniel Audetto remains confident about the future and thinks that once arbitration over customer cars is resolved early next year, the team will be able to put the sponsors in place and finalise their driver line-up of Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato.

Speaking to autosport.com, he said the support from Honda and Japanese fans was a big lift to the spirits amid all the difficulties the team face.

"We have always to remember why Super Aguri exists," said Audetto. "We exist because we always had the support, commitment and direction from Honda. We have a close collaboration with them and two weeks ago, when I was in Japan for a Honda festival, I really noticed a big support that Aguri and Takuma have in Japan.

"That comes from Bridgestone, the media, the sponsors and most importantly the fans. It is incredible.

"But saying that, I think we have still two problems. The first one is from this year and that is the loss of US$40 million of money - $30 million sponsorship from SS United and $10 million from Giedo van der Garde's sponsors. That created a big problem and it meant that after Indianapolis, we had to reduce the costs and the development.

"Secondly, looking to next year, the future is not defined because F1 is a bit uncertain, and arbitration action brings a negative impact."

Super Aguri and Scuderia Toro Rosso are at the centre of an arbitration action lodged by Spyker (now Force India) over the use of customer cars in Formula One.

A decision on that matter is expected early next year, and Audetto admits that until the case is resolved there is little chance of his team putting further plans for 2008 in place.

"Aguri is in negotiation with different sponsors, but the problem with the ongoing situation in F1 is not helping very much.

"I hope we can finalise the arbitration in our favour very soon. This is all just politics going on, and if I was a sponsor I would want to have the arbitration action resolved before I committed.

"However, Aguri Suzuki is working hard and he is confident we will have sponsors and new partners, and they will join Super Aguri.

"In the meantime we have to prepare for the new season in the best possible way. We did Barcelona and Jerez with new tyres and the new MES (standard ECU), and we are looking forward to having more good tests in January.

"After that, we hope to confirm soon we have sponsors, partners and also our drivers Anthony and Takuma."

Super Aguri will start next season with an interim car before hopefully getting their hands on a 2008 Honda 'customer car' from the start of the European season.

And although the off-track problems remain, Audetto is in no doubt that they are totally committed to the sport.

"Our team, in spite of being small and not being super funded, we have a real fighting spirit," he said. "We have good professional people.

"Sometimes it can be an advantage to not be a big team. There is no complication with bureaucracy, and we can move fast, so sometimes the benefit of being small can compensate for not having the big budget.

"I think next year we can be more positive and be stronger with more experience."

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