Spyker & Super Aguri in trouble

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The futures of F1’s minnows are uncertain as Spyker cars suffer financial problems and a leading Super Aguri sponsor fails to pay the team.

Spyker took over the Midland team last year, which in turn took over Jordan in 2005.

The parent company expects to make a loss this year and is considering selling the Silverstone-based team to raise money.

Spyker has been at the back of the grid all year but managed to beat a running rival for the first time in the Hungarian Grand Prix and managed to briefly lead the European Grand Prix.

Super Aguri was formed in 2006 with substantial backing from Honda, thanks in no small part to public outcry in Japan over the future of Takuma Sato, whom Honda dropped at the end of 2005.

Super Aguri sponsor SS United has apparently failed to make a payment. Team manager Aguri Suzuki is courting Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag who owns a majority stakeholding in GP2 team Campos racing.

They may be the minnows of the F1 paddock – but without them starting grids would number a pitiful 18.

Photo: Peter J Fox / Crash Media Group

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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4 comments on “Spyker & Super Aguri in trouble”

  1. The difference between Spyker and Super Aguri is, that Super Aguri owes most of the money to Honda. And it is in Honda’s interest to keep them afloat. So I think Super Aguri have some time in hands to sort out their sponsor situation. However, as a short term solution they may be forced to offer one of their race seats to a pay driver. And as Sato is untouchable there, Davidson’s seat may be in danger…

    As for Spyker, their race seats are probably not worth big money, but they have Sutil under contract and some teams may be willing to buy him out … But I would not surprised if we the team changes the owners again soon …

    I do not see having 9 teams on grid as likely scenario. Of course it can always happen that a team drops out during the season, as it happened with Prost and Arrows recently, or a manufacturer decides to leave as Ford (Jaguar + Cosworth engines for Minardi and Jordan) in 2004. But they would probably be replaced quickly. Just look back to how many teams applied for the 12th team slot that went to Prodrive … (where is Prodrive by the way…)

  2. This is not a good sign.

    – Super Aguri is on shaky ground. But they’ll make it. They look very solid right now for at least 9th in the championship (maybe even 8th). And I hear some companies are interested in helping out.
    – Spyker is in more danger. Their only valuable assets are Adrian Sutil and Mike Gascoyne. Change of owners? That will just delay progress up the grid even longer.
    – Where is Prodrive? Still no news? That’s becoming a cause for worry. And what’s worse, the outfits that are in a best position to replace their spot (ex. Direxiv, Minardi, Pollock) are either gone or uninterested.

  3. Honda won’t let Super Aguri fall off the grid – it would be too embarassing back in Japan, as Aguri is extremely popular over there. Spyker are in danger, and need to latch on to a manufacturer in order to survive, like Williams did with Toyota. A deal with Renault should become Spyker’s priority, as Renault have lots of young drivers in their programs to feed to Spyker with lots of valuable sponsorship. Prodrive were supposed to be announcing their drivers around Silverstone time – they will do a deal with McLaren for Paffett and de la Rosa for sure.

  4. Spyker is relatively safe. In the absolute worst-case scenario, Spyker Cars will miss the $11m payment to Midland at the end of next month and Spyker F1 transfers back to Midland. If that happens, it will be a problem for progress (it was largely Midland’s underinvestment that led to this year’s car being so far off the pace), but Jordan / Midland / Spyker / call-it-what-you-will have survived it before and will survive it again if they have to return.

    That said, Michel Mol is sufficiently interested in Spyker F1 that he’s stepped down as CEO of Spyker to avoid a conflict of interest during negotiations. If Spyker has to resort to a sale (and the wording of the statement was ambiguous as to whether one would even be needed), Mol is in the wings to buy. Not having to support Spyker Cars’ $15m loans has to be some sort of advantage to him, though there’s still the $11m Midland payout to consider. In this scenario, the Spyker name would probably remain.

    Whichever way, Spyker won’t be a customer team at least as long as Colin Kolles is there. Since both Spyker and Midland like him, and Mol is basically a Spyker employee even now, don’t expect a deal with Renault or anybody else for anything other than engines.

    Super Aguri worries me a bit, but as milos said, Honda will ensure it doesn’t suffer too much. Unless it inflicts this year’s Honda on them next year – but no amount of money will rescue that chassis! Besides, Sato and his skill have to have a seat, otherwise Honda will be in a difficult position, as Vertigo mentioned. I think they’ll be able to leverage some sponsorship, given time.

    The real worry is Prodrive. I’ve heard so little from them that I suspect they’ve been put onto Plan B – i.e. not Mercedes/McLaren – at a minimum.

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