This week has been mostly about Honda, thanks to their car launch. Super Aguri also made it to the news thanks to Max Mosley’s doubts about their future. Now the strong words from Honda, namely from Nick Fry (to Reuters) only add to Super Aguri woes:
“The intent for 2008 is that Aguri will be on the grid but clearly what Ross (Brawn) and I need to do, and are doing, is ensure that doesn’t detract from our primary job. At this stage, the intent is that they will be on the grid with Honda engines and support. Exactly how much of that support comes from here is being worked on at the moment. I would not personally be convinced that the driver you mentioned would be of an acceptable standard for us.”
Nick Fry went on to point out that Anthony Davidson is the driver of the appropriate standard.
The driver Reuters mentioned is Narain Karthikeyan. His name came up in connection with Indian telecom company Spice Group. Spice Group is said to be one of the parties in talks with Super Aguri over funding or investment.
Now this is not an easy situation for Super Aguri. Paid drivers have been source of funds for the cash strapped teams for years. And the race seat may be the only thing thatSuper Aguri has to offer at the moment. On the other hand, while they may struggle without new funds coming in, they would surely go down and under and out of business should Honda pull the plug. Super Aguri simply can’t afford to go against Honda’s wishes…
Both Fry and Brawn have admitted that the Super Aguri project is a “distraction”. Honda will only support Super Aguri if they can get something back in return. That would be feedback from Super Aguri drivers for example, or the testing mileage (as they did towards the end of last year after Honda used up all their testing mileage). Good feedback only comes from decent drivers, so no wonder Honda wants to have a say over who drives for Super Aguri.
Super Aguri’s Daniele Audetto admits that Honda does have a say over Super Aguri choice of drivers and also referred to Davidson as Honda’s preferred driver for Super Aguri. However:
“But we are also looking for a strong partner. If they bring a lot of money and they want a driver from wherever, then he has to be good and accepted by the FIA.”
Unless Honda is ready to pay all the bills for Aguri, it does not look too good for Anthony Davidson. Honda may prevent Super Aguri from signing a lousy driver, but not from getting a decent one along with a pile of cash. Money will talk at the end.
In the meantime the Indian Consortium lead by Spice Group CEO Andaleeb Sehgal confirmed they are in talks with two Formula 1 teams, Super Aguri being one of them. However nothing has been agreed yet:
“There has been no acquisition yet. We are talking to two teams at the moment. One of them is Super Aguri. As now we are waiting to come up with a realistic valuation of the team. Should we find a number within our reach we will then proceed to buy.”
(I am not implying here that Narain Karthikeyan is a lousy driver, that is not an intention of this post.)