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Japanese team applies to join Formula One
Alastair Himmer | November 01, 2005 15:57 IST
A Japanese team powered by Honda engines has applied to join Formula One from next year, team boss Aguri Suzuki said on Tuesday.
Former F1 driver Suzuki's 'Super Aguri Formula One' team would become the 11th team on the starting grid if approved by the sport's ruling International Automobile Federation (FIA).
"We have cleared all the hurdles we had to clear up to this point," Suzuki told reporters. "Obviously there is a huge amount of work left but we plan to be on the grid in 2006."
Suzuki added: "We have the technical cooperation of Honda behind us so we are confident of achieving our dream of competing in Formula One."
The new team formally notified the FIA of their intention to race in 2006 last week, ahead of the November 15 deadline for entries.
The last new entrant was Toyota in 2002, when there were also 11 teams. There have been 10 teams since Arrows folded during the course of that season.
No decision has been made on who would drive for the new team, although Suzuki said talks were 'progressing nicely' with Japan's Takuma Sato.
Sato drove his last race for BAR, who will be wholly owned by Honda next year, at last month's season-ending Chinese Grand Prix. He scored just one point all year.
"We are at a nice stage in talks with Takuma," said Suzuki, who is not linked to the Suzuki car company. "I'd like to see him racing with a good team and he'll want that too. Our goal is to build a team he will want to drive for."
Sato's Formula One future has been in doubt since BAR announced that Brazilian Rubens Barrichello would move from Ferrari to replace him alongside Jenson Button next year.
Briton Anthony Davidson, the BAR test driver, has also been linked to the new team.
However Japanese newspapers have speculated that Sato could be joined by Kosuke Matsuura, who raced this year for the Super Aguri IRL team in America.
"It could be two Japanese drivers or one Japanese driver," Suzuki said. "It could even be two foreign drivers. Right now we are in a race with time and we have other priorities."
Super Aguri will be based at the factory of the former Arrows team in Langley, Oxfordshire, but decisions over chassis assembly were pending FIA approval.
Under the confidential 'Concorde Agreement' governing Formula One, teams must compete with their own car and not one designed or manufactured by another.
"Approval from the FIA is not in our control but we expect to hear at the end of this month," said Suzuki. "We have to abide by the rules and we are still exploring all possible options."
Suzuki, who stated his preference to use Japanese company Bridgestone's tyres, said he wanted to launch the team formally in late January or early February 2006.
Honda said last month they would supply their V8 engines to the new team but Suzuki scoffed at media reports Super Aguri were a Honda 'B-team.'
"We are a Japanese team -- that's very important," he said. "But we aren't Honda's B-team by any means. Our goal is to have the Japanese 'rising sun' raised above the podium."
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