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GP Week : Issue 10
GPWEEK: Nick, can you clarify the events that led to the end of Super Aguri? NICK FRY: I think after Magma/DIC went away things were increasingly difficult because although in the last six to nine months there have been a number of people who have expressed interest in the team, all the time you have to think not only of the initial thought plan of the sale, but what happens after that. The final decision was on Tuesday when Aguri told the senior management of Honda that there wasn’t any possibility of securing that level of financial arrangement, and consequently it unfortunately came to an end. Our over-riding feeling is one of disappointment for everyone involved, not least the two drivers who have done a good job and its way beyond their control. You’ve been quoted a lot in the press on the Aguri topic. However where is the line drawn between your role as HRF1 CEO and speaking on behalf of Honda itself? There isn’t a line. We’re the same entity and I only speak when I know that it’s a view shared within the corporation. Obviously we’re not in the situation where we’re so bureaucratic that you have to review every statement made, but we are Honda. Aguri Suzuki himself must have accrued a lot of personal debt and theoretically could stand to lose his other racing teams, notably ones with Honda backing. Will Honda help him? That really is a question that I think is for Aguri, but [also] one for the people who are involved in Honda motorsport overall. Obviously on a day by day basis my overall concern is the Honda Formula 1 Team and ramifications that affect that team. I’m sure based on what I’ve seen so far, Honda will be loyal and helpful as far as it practicably can. SAF1 had some big debts. How can Honda just write them off? The financial aspects are extremely serious and were a major consideration. Obviously for the company the size of Honda it’s something which can be born, but in absolute terms, it’s still a significant amount of money. Apart from the desire to keep the Super Aguri team going, one of our big considerations has been to recover of monies expended, and one of the beauties of the Magma situation was all of that would have been resolved. But one thing you have to recognise all the time in business is you can’t make decisions based on the past. What is sunk is sunk. Invariably if you make a decision based on debts or moneys which are already gone, you just end up digging an even bigger hole. We had done our utmost to support Aguri for the last few months in the hope that one of these financial bids would come to fruition. Unfortunately it didn’t and you can only go on so long. With that in mind, and given there was no certainty of a salvation package, should Honda have even given Aguri the cars in Melbourne? I can see that point of view, but at the beginning of the year there was not only a hope, but a likelihood that the Magma / DIC deal would have come together. When you’ve got that prospect which at the time looks realistic, there was every reason to keep going and keep helping the team. When that prospect went away, which did appear to be the only one with substance behind it, then that reason goes away. The process that we’ve gone through is entirely logical and I think that you might be right, that many companies would have withdrawn support earlier, but I think all you’re demonstrating is a degree of loyalty and support that Honda have given to Aguri, because they do take a long term view of things. Given the struggles for Aguri, do you see a future for independent teams in F1? I think that Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and there are plenty of other formulae where people can compete very well for a much smaller budget. But the reality is that this is a global sport with 600million people watching throughout the year, which is the equivalent of the Olympics or the World Cup, and you don’t involve Brackley Town football club in the World Cup. You don’t have beginners competing in the Olympics. This is supposed to be the pinnacle, and the competitors are in many cases among not only the biggest in the world, but also the best companies in the world from technology point of view. I would say it’s only right that it’s a place for people who are properly resourced and realise what they’re getting into. Far Left: Super Aguri F1 Team Boss Aguri Suzuki announces the withdrawal of the Super Aguri F1 Team from the Formula One World Championship. Centre: Pitstop for Anthony Davidson. Left: Nick Fry, Honda Racing F1 Team CEO, was involved in the Magma deal. F1 INSIGHT >> 25