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Suzuki enters 11th team for 2006 01 Nov 2005

Ex F1 driver Aguri Suzuki (JPN) 1998. World © Sutton

Former Grand Prix driver Aguri Suzuki has revealed that he is the man behind the much-talked-about, Honda-linked, 11th team. Suzuki has lodged an application for the team to compete in the 2006 world championship and is in driver talks with Takuma Sato.

However, Suzuki is likely to have to wait until December to find out whether his application is accepted and even then he admitted he will face a race against time to get on the grid next season.

Speaking at a press conference at Honda’s Welcome Plaza on Tuesday, Suzuki confirmed that a deal was in place to use the Japanese company’s V8 engines next year and that he had an offer from Bridgestone to supply tyres.

The new team, expected to be called Super Aguri F1 in line with Suzuki’s other motorsport projects, will work out of the former Arrows factory in Oxfordshire, England, where their Aguri chassis will be built. Their headquarters will remain in Tokyo.

Suzuki said he is in negotiations with former BAR driver Sato to front the team, and admitted that although his plans for his Formula One project had begun in February, they only really took off in September after the Japanese star was dropped by the Honda-owned team for the 2006 season.

The exact level of Honda’s involvement remains unclear, though Suzuki hinted that large parts of the project hinge on their assistance. There had been speculation that the new team would use customer parts from BAR, but such an arrangement would be far from straightforward under current Formula One regulations, which require all teams to build their own chassis.

Speaking earlier this week, BAR CEO Nick Fry described his team as the ‘supporting act, rather than the leaders’ in the Suzuki project, but suggested they were doing all they can to assist in readying it to race next year.

“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.”

Assuming Suzuki’s championship entry is accepted by the FIA, he is expected to make an official presentation of his new team sometime early in 2006.