2007 Team Review - Super Aguri 19 Nov 2007
With a comparatively meagre budget, a year-old Honda at their disposal and one of the smallest head counts on the grid, even the staunchest of Super Aguri fans held little hope of the team achieving any serious success in 2007.
Slim as they were, those hopes faded further as the squad failed to unveil their 2007 car until the week before the season-opener in Australia - months later than the rest of the field. If the late launch of the 2006 car had been bad, this seemed to spell disaster. Still, Hondas 2006 car had been a race winner and with seasoned driver Takuma Sato in the cockpit alongside former Honda tester Anthony Davidson, there were some positives.
And in Melbourne, the late delivery of the SA07 didnt seem to matter one jot. Despite only testing the new car during Friday practice, the team distinguished themselves, qualifying in 10th (Sato giving Super Aguri their Q3 debut) and 11th respectively and finishing the race in 12th and 16th, right on the tails of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button in the works Honda cars.
It was a strong start, but could it last? At first it seemed it would. Aguri Suzukis squad remained competitive at most of those early races, giving several better-funded teams a real run for their money. But the major breakthrough for the team came in Barcelona, where Sato clinched a maiden point for the two-year old outfit.
Even if Monte Carlo proved a little too tough a test, a race later in Montreal, Sato did it again, qualifying in 11th and passing reigning world champion Fernando Alonso on his way to sixth place and a further three points. Davidson would have scored too, were it not for a delinquent groundhog which strayed into his path. The resulting collision broke the British drivers front wing and ruined what would prove to be his best chance of the season to score.
While Davidson would gain an advantage over his veteran team mate in later races, by then the cars pace just wasnt enough for him to finish in the points. As the season wore on the team were left apparently unable to match the pace of development of the larger teams and the Canadian Grand Prix remained the high spot of Super Aguris second Formula One season.
Nevertheless, it was enough though for the team to finish ninth in the standings - just two points behind Honda. Having transformed themselves from also-rans into genuine midfield contenders, Super Aguri were without doubt one of the success stories of 2007.