Super Aguri closed its doors on May 6, just a few days before it was due to compete in the Turkish GP. The collapse of the team part-way through its third season left Takuma Sato and Anthony Davidson without drives, and trimmed the F1 entry list to just 20 cars for the first time since 2005.
In essence the team collapsed after Aguri Suzuki failed to find any substantial sponsorship. The team is believed to have been $US90 million in debut, with Honda sources suggesting that “around 95 per cent” of that was owed to the Japanese manufacturer, which had continually bailed Suzuki out and had allowed bills to go unpaid while new backers were sought.
In March the team had announced a buyout by the Magma Group, headed by former Ford Europe boss Martin Leach. The deal was backed by finance from Dubai International Capital, a holding company owned by that country’s government. However, DIC changed its mind at a late stage.
A last-minute rescue bid by the Weigl Group was deemed unsuitable by Honda when it became apparent that the German engineering concern did not have sufficient finance to bankroll a takeover, pay the debts and run the team.
Suzuki was keen to place the blame for the team’s failure on Nick Fry, an allegation that the Honda Racing boss refuted.
“I think that many other companies would have called a halt to things a year or more ago,” said Fry. “Since the end of last season Honda has given Aguri the space and the time to look for alternative partners.”