New car, new driver and new beginning for Japanese squad
The Super Aguri team completed preparations for the race debut of their new car this week, with shakedown tests at two UK venues. The SA06 will get its first competitive outing at next weekends German Grand Prix.
Takuma Sato was the first driver to step behind the wheel of the new challenger on Wednesday at Silverstone in chassis SA06-03, whilst Sakon Yamamoto took over the driving duties in chassis SA06-04 at Santa Pod on Thursday. Both men completed their planned programmes, required laps and kilometres.
"It was very exciting for me and the team to shakedown the SA06 for the first time, said Sato. The car felt good, although it is difficult to say how good as the Stowe circuit is very short compared to a normal race track. I am excited to be going to the German Grand Prix with a car that we know will be competitive, so I am very much looking forward to arriving in Hockenheim next week.
The new car - which replaces the 2002 Arrows-based SA05 - is around 20 kilogrammes lighter than its predecessor and boasts a completely new aerodynamics package, aluminium gearbox and livery. It also features a lower centre of gravity and the rear suspension has been optimised for more efficient use of the teams Bridgestone tyres.
Our second shakedown on Thursday was another very good day for the team because we did not encounter any major problems and completed our testing schedule, added Yamamoto, who will also make his Formula One race debut at Hockenheim. I felt that the car was improving constantly throughout the day so I am really looking forward to going to Germany next week.
The team had intended to introduce the SA06 in France, but gearbox and wind-tunnel problems forced them to postpone the launch. But despite the delays, team boss Aguri Suzuki believes the arrival of their 2006 machine will mark a new dawn for the fledgling constructor.
I am very happy that we were able to go ahead with the long-awaited shakedown of the SA06, said Suzuki. Although it was later than originally planned, I felt that it went very well for a first shakedown. As we have yet to run the car in a race it is difficult to say this, but I believe that this is the true start to our 2006 campaign. As the German Grand Prix will be the debut race for the SA06, it is possible that we are going to face a few teething problems, but I have every confidence in the capability of the car and the team.
Super Aguris best performance to date has been a 12th place in Australia.