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Exclusive Q&A - Aguri Suzuki 12 Jan 2007

Aguri Suzuki (JPN) Team Principal Super Aguri F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 6 May 2006

This time last year Super Aguri seemed little more than a pipe dream, with few realistically expecting to see their cars appear on the grid at the Bahrain season opener. But appear they did, and a dramatic improvement in pace over the following 17 races made it clear that very determined people are at the helm of the youngest Formula One team. No surprise then that team principal Aguri Suzuki was voted ‘Man of the Year’ by his peers in paddock publication, the Red Bulletin. But what of 2007…

Q: Establishing the Super Aguri team must have given you many sleepless nights. After a very respectable 2006 season and with the future looking bright, do you sleep a lot better now?
Aguri Suzuki:
No, not really. As Team Principal I am always in a stressful and difficult state of mind!

Q: What was the most challenging part of last season? Getting the financing; gaining FIA approval; get the car on to the grid; finding the people needed to run a team…
This is really impossible to say because if one of the above is not achieved the whole project will collapse.

Q: You were six seconds off the qualifying pace at the start of 2006, but just 2.5 seconds by the end. Finding 3.5 seconds over the course of a season is a remarkable achievement…
Yes, I am happy and satisfied to an extent, but even with the big improvement in performance and lap times we were usually at the bottom of the grid and this is what I want to change in 2007.

Q: And Anthony Davidson showed in pre-Christmas testing that the team are still on the up. Where will this rapid rate of development take you in 2007?
My priority will be to achieve championship points this year. Also I would like to see my team race for position and not to just make up the numbers on the grid.

Q: In 2008 it will be legal to buy customer chassis from other teams. BMW Sauber’s Dr Mario Theissen has suggested this could harm Formula One racing. What do you think?
I totally disagree.

Q: Anthony Davidson’s signing saw the team’s Japanese roots arguably give way to a more international approach. Was this due to commercial considerations, the will to move up the grid, or the fact that Japan’s current young drivers are not yet ready for race seats?
I was not really too concerned with these ‘all-Japan’ statements from the beginning. But yes, we are a Japanese team and I am proud about that. As for the young Japanese driver situation, there are many good drivers in our country, but as you say, they may not be ready just yet.

Q: What is the current head-count at Super Aguri?
There are now 138 permanent staff at SAF1 Team in Leafield. There are also a number of Honda staff who work intermittently from our factory and a small number of staff at my Head Office in Japan.

Q: Finally, is there a date set for the launch of your 2007 car?
Not yet.