Suzuki facing uphill battle

Aguri Suzuki admits he needs help from several quarters if his new team is to make it onto the Formula One grid in 2006.

Aguri Suzuki admits he needs help from several quarters if his new team is to make it onto the Formula One grid in 2006.

The ex-grand prix driver has announced ambitious plans to launch the Super Aguri Formula One team in 2006, with significant backing from Honda.

With just 129 days before the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Suzuki has left it late to confirm his plans and still needs to resolve issues over chassis, tyres and sponsors.

The chassis problem is Suzuki’s chief worry, with uncertainty over how much help he can receive from Honda-owned BAR.

It is believed Super Aguri want to run customer BAR chassis, whether they be current models or year-old versions, but Formula One rules appear to conflict with that aim.

The ruling Concorde Agreement specifies that teams cannot buy cars that have been designed or built by rival outfits.

FIA president Max Mosley explained the position recently, saying: “You must have the intellectual property rights to your car, and the parts must not be designed or manufactured by another constructor

“They can be [built] by an independent, non-competing third party but not a constructor. You cannot just buy a car.”

Paddock sources have suggested any plan to declare BAR a “third party” in the wake of a recent buy-out – separate to the new Honda team which replaces it - is doomed to failure.

But Suzuki is still pinning his hopes on Honda if his team are to make it onto the grid in Bahrain on March 12.

“There is little else we can do without Honda’s assistance,” he said. “As far as the chassis is concerned we cannot compete without help from Honda and BAR.”

A change to the secret Concorde Agreement is highly unlikely but Suzuki could buy the intellectual rights to last year’s BAR and build a car from those designs. That is believed to be illegal but if Super Aguri are struggling at the back of the grid, they may escape protests from other teams.

Suzuki also needs extra funding for the outfit, despite anticipated help from Honda. Japanese finance and media giant Softbank are expected to come on board and Suzuki concedes his dream is heavily dependent on funding.

He said: “If we can attract a lot of sponsors then we will be able to build a strong team. We are doing our best.”

But BAR team boss Nick Fry has warned Suzuki not to underestimate the challenge ahead.

“Starting a new Formula One team is a huge undertaking,” he said. “It requires the hiring of a lot of people, detailed logistics and the purchase of a large amount of equipment, some of which has long lead times.

“What we are doing with the new team at the moment is working through exactly what needs to be done between now and the beginning of next season.”

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