12/06/07: Luca Felipe of Italy test drives the Super Aguri car during Formula One Testing at the Circuito de Jerez in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
It's no secret around the F1 paddock that Super Aguri is in big financial trouble. The team, founded by former Japanese F1 driver Aguri Suzuki, made its debut at the start of the 2006 season after buying its place on the grid – unlike most new teams that were formed out of previous entries. Aguri runs on a shoe-string budget, fielding old cars and relying heavily on Honda's patronage to pay the enormous bills of operating a Formula One team.
Emerging reports now suggest that Honda has decided to continue supporting the team for another season. Because Honda is believed to supply a big chunk of Aguri's budget (as well as its engines and chassis) – effectively making it Honda's "B-squad" – the Japanese auto giant has the power to decide Super Aguri's fate. But public pressure on Honda in Japan to have its former pilot Takuma Sato driving in F1 has motivated the company to continue funding the second racing outfit. Honda would not commit beyond next season, however, and if Aguri continues to embarrass the Honda F1 Team with its transcendent performance, they may find themselves holding their hats again a year from now.
The news means that Aguri joins Force India as one of two teams with seats still available for the 2008 season. Sato is all but guaranteed his place, but Aguri could go any which way for its second driver. (Italian driver Luca Fillippi, a rising talent in motorsports, was connected with a drive for Aguri, but opted to sign for GP2 instead.) Ralf Schumacher and Tonio Liuzzi are both in search of new drives for next season, along with a slew of new hopefuls. Let the courtship begin.
[Source: F1i.com, Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty]