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Super Aguri confirmed as 11th F1 team
Alan Baldwin | January 27, 2006 14:17 IST
Formula One will have 11 teams this season after the sport's governing body confirmed Japan's Super Aguri as a new entrant on Thursday.
The arrival of the Honda-powered team, whose application was initially rejected after a $48 million bond was not paid by a November deadline, puts 22 cars on the starting grid for the first time since the demise of Arrows in late 2002.
The last newcomer, in a sport with several top teams spending well in excess of $200 million a year, was Japanese car giant Toyota in 2002.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that Super Aguri, who had secured the agreement of all 10 other teams to be allowed to race, are confirmed.
"Following receipt of the necessary financial guarantee and with the unanimous support of the competing teams, the FIA has accepted the late entry of the Super Aguri F1 team to the 2006 FIA Formula One world championship," it said in a statement.
Former Japanese racer Aguri Suzuki, the team principal and founder, welcomed the news.
"I am thankful for the support we received from all of the other F1 teams and we look forward to seeing them soon," he said in a statement.
"Our team members are doing their best to make sure that we are on the grid in Bahrain -- and I am confident that we will make it," he added.
Super Aguri have taken over the old Arrows factory in central England and are racing against time to be ready for the start of the season on March 12.
They have yet to name any race drivers, although one of the two is certain to be Japan's Takuma Sato after he was dropped last year by BAR -- now renamed as Honda Racing F1.
Suzuki, who started 88 Grands Prix and was the first Japanese to stand on the Formula One podium, said last year his goal is to build a team that Sato would want to drive for.
A number of other Japanese drivers have been linked to the fledgling team and Suzuki said an announcement would be made soon.
Honda's British test driver Anthony Davidson could be an eventual option, although Honda want him as their Friday tester at Grand Prix weekends.
Super Aguri are working on a new car but intend to start the season with old Arrows bought from ex-Minardi boss Paul Stoddart. Japan's Bridgestone have been approached for tyres.
"Of course we do not expect to be on the pace straight away," team managing director Daniele Audetto said in a statement last month. "We will use the first GPs to train the team before our definitive car reaches the track."
Honda are providing the engines but are otherwise concentrating on their own team.
"They share an engine...but at the moment we are focused on what we need to do, which is to do the best that we possibly can and we cannot have massive diversion from that," Honda team boss Nick Fry told reporters in Barcelona on Wednesday.
Suzuki has in any case ruled out being a Honda 'B' team: "We are a Japanese team, that's very important," he told reporters in November.
"But we aren't Honda's B team by any means. Our goal is to have the Japanese 'rising sun' raised above the podium."
Formula One: The Complete Coverage