APRIL 18, 2008
Why Super Aguri needs to be saved
There are rumours suggesting that Super Aguri F1 may be in danger as a result of a decision by the backers of Magma International not to push ahead with the deal that was close to being signed. Contrary to some reports, however, our sources say the deal is not completely dead as the backers in Dubai are still assessing the risks involved in investing in the team, notably the arbitration between Super Aguri and Force India F1 and the lack of a Concorde Agreement, giving the teams long-term security in the sport.
There are commercial agreements in place with Formula One Management until the end of 2012 and some argue that there is a Concorde Agreement, citing a press release of January 19 2005 in which the FIA, Ferrari and Formula One Management announced that they had "agreed to prolong the Concorde Agreement for the period 2008 to 2012". The statement included quotes from the FIA President Max Mosley, Bernie Ecclestone and Luca di Montezemolo as all being delighted that a new deal had been agreed.
In July 2006, however, Mosley told Autosport that "unless and until we sign up to another Concorde Agreement, we are free to do what we like and of course teams and manufacturers are free to enter or not enter" and later that year he was quoted as saying "We have a deal with Bernie that he will show up with 20 cars. Bernie has a deal with the teams that they will come with 20 cars. We have a deal with Bernie that we regulate the championship in the traditional way, so at the moment the entire structure is in place so we dont have to have a Concorde Agreement".
This fuzziness about the Concorde Agreement has obviously not helped the Super Aguri situation.
There are however strong forces in play to keep the team alive. Honda does not want to be seen to be pushing the team out of business and, in any case, will gain more financially by keeping the team alive as there will then be chance to recoup at least some of the money that is owed by the team. At the same time Honda can make money off its engine supply deal and, perhaps more importantly, can get useful data that might help to improve the performance of the engines. These are frozen but there are things that can be done that will find additional horsepower. This is believed to be one of the big advantages enjoyed by Ferrari at the moment.
The Formula One group is also keen for the team to stay alive because having an 11th team is of key importance in keeping the other teams competitive. The financial agreements mean that only the top 10 teams get prize and travel money. If there is no 11th team, there is no real incentive for the back of the grid teams to push hard and they become weaker, particularly if they are already up for sale.
For the financial men in Dubai, little has changed in terms of the philosophy. They want a team to help to tell the world about the city andd to give it some additional glitz. There is no desire for an F1 race in the city but the development of the F1X theme park is aimed the achieve an increase in the tourist trade, which is much the same goal as a race.
Thus, when all is said and done, everyone has something to gain from the deal going ahead.
We hear from Leafield that the first Super Aguri set-up truck has departed for Barcelona and will begin work over the weekend getting things ready for the team to arrive. The cars must depart on Tuesday morning at the latest and the signs are that the money and the parts to do this will be found, thus buying the team another fortnight in which to get a deal together.