MARCH 20, 2008
The money behind Super Aguri F1
The big question in F1 circles in recent days has been where the money is coming from to fund the takeover of the Super Aguri F1 team. This is rumoured to be from the Middle East. There have been rumours for many years of a government involvement in racing from the booming emirate of Dubai. This was expected to be along the lines of the funding of the Victory Team offshore powerboat team. No deal has ever materialised but Dubai has invested in the first Formula One-branded theme park, which is now under construction.
Our spies tell us that the Super Aguri deal is a five-year programme and will see around $70m a year being invested in the Leafield operation. This will provide a solid foundation on which to build, although the team will no doubt be looking for more money. It is expected that the cars will be used to promote different aspects of Dubai and companies in which investments have been made. Dubai has built up its tourism in recent years, using sport as a promotional tool.
The company that is most likely to be involved is Dubai International Capital (DIC). This has been actively involved in negotiations to purchase the English Premier League soccer club Liverpool FC - one of the world's great sporting franchises - even after the sale of the team to US sports tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks. On March 10, however, Hicks announced that discussions with DIC were finally over.
A couple of days later came the announcement of the Super Aguri takeover.
DIC was established in October 2004 as the international investment arm of Dubai Holding, a company run by the ruling family of the Emirate of Dubai. Among the investments that have been made are shareholdings in Daimler, HSBC, Sony, EADS, the parent company of Airbus, and Travelodge.
We hear that the intention is for the team to start building its own chassis next year, which explains the role being played by former GP2 team owner/composite entrepreneur Dave Price.