Unexpected Resurrection - 2006 Super Aguri SA05 Honda (Double Trouble Part 2/2)
The 2006 Formula One season bringing big changes to the sports with new identity for a few teams as well as a lot of shake up in the driver’s market. Honda, after taking over from BAR has signed with veteran Rubens Barrichello to partner with Jenson Button. That left out Takuma Sato seemingly without a drive for the season.
This was not a good news towards the Japanese fans supporting Sato and pressure was mounting on Honda to find a drive for the fan’s favorite Japanese. Luckily for them, former Larrousse and Footwork driver Aguri Suzuki have been planning to field a team in the sports for the 2006 season. Unfortunately for Aguri, the team’s entry wasn’t approved by the FIA because they didn’t secure a $48 million entry bond on time. Honda jumped in and put Sato in the team as well as helping the team on their funds and providing them with technical support. The team was also dubbed as the “unofficial” Honda B-Team.
The team then applied their entry again to the FIA and an unanimous agree on their entry and confirmed by the FIA on January 26th. But with the team coming late to the championship, the car (SA06) wasn’t ready on time. It was planned that the team would use the 2005 BAR 007 chassis that Honda just taken over, in a same move to Red Bull for Toro Rosso to use the old RB1 chassis. Because Super Aguri was a completely new team, they couldn’t use the chassis. Toro Rosso could use the RB1 chassis because they were taking over Minardi in the process and also because Red Bull owns the team, they have the rights to use the chassis.
With pre-season testings looming ahead with no car, Aguri then seeks through different options and ultimately found a solution.
With Toro Rosso (Red Bull) taking over from Paul Stoddart’s Minardi. Stoddart still kept the old Arrows A23 following Arrows demise to potentially replace the PS03. Stoddart sold both chassis to Aguri. With now having the race-ready chassis, the only problem now for the team is a car that was now four years old. The car was pretty much unchanged with only small aerodynamics package to the car with a revised front and rear wing. The car also still keep the twin-keel design from the A23. It is powered by a new natural aspirated Honda RA806-E 2.4 l V8 for the new 2006 engines regulation.
With Takuma Sato now with the team, the second driver was announced and pretty much a shocker to the world. An unknown Yuji Ide was put in the team, creating an all Japanese line up.
The team then headed to Barcelona for the pre-season testings and as everyone expected, they were off the pace but still close to some other backmarkers Midland and Toro Rosso.
With new aerodynamics package to the car heading to the season opener in Bahrain, the team is ready for its debut. Both cars were the slowest in qualifying and in the race, Sato did well but Ide was still getting used to the demanding nature of F1 and was 7 seconds of the pace. The race was pretty uneventful for Sato as he finished 18th with four laps down while Ide retired on lap 35 with engine issues.
In Malaysia, while Sato was battling hard with Monteiro’s Midland and finishing a respectable 14th, Ide again retired with throttle issues.
After a carnage down under afternoon at Melbourne, both cars reach the finish line with Sato in 12th and Ide crossing the finishing line for the first time behind his teammate in 13th respectively. The stewards would later hand in a reprimand to Sato for ignoring blue flags. Ide was also in hot water for blocking Barrichello causing him to start 16th in qualifying. Aguri Suzuki also said Ide needs to improve his results to secure his seat as he still way slower than Sato.
Then at the first lap at Imola, all hell broke lose at the Villeneuve Curve. Ide launched down the inside of Christian Albers, clipping his right rear and sending the Dutchman in a series of rolls and landed upside down. Ide soon returned to the race after having his front wing changed but he later retired with a suspension issues. Adding salts to injury when Sato retired with an accident on lap 44. After the race, the FIA withdraws Ide’s superlicense for his erratic drving as he could no longer race in the season.
Renault test driver Franck Montagny was called in to replace Ide. Things would go south again at Nurburgring as both drivers retired with hydraulics issues. At Catalunya and Monte Carlo, each driver takes turn to retire. The Frenchman retired in Spain with driveshaft problems while Sato finishing in 17th. Monaco was a bit different as Sato retired more than halfway while Montagny finishing in 16th.
Things later improved at sunny Silverstone with Sato and Montagny finishing in 17th and 18th respectively. Montagny continues to get used to the car and edging closer to his more experienced Japanese teammate.
Canada was still a struggle as Montagny retired again with engine issues while Sato binning his car near the end of the race but still classified in 15th. Down south to Indianapolis and both cars would retired early with Franck retired just after reaching the first turn where he was involved in a demolition derby that later also taken out his teammate Sato.
Magny Cours was the last race for the SA05 before the SA06 replacing the car and running to the end of the season. Sato retired with a transmission problem even before completing a lap while Montagny was able to finish his home race at 16th.
The SA06 was way more competitive than the SA05 and even faster than the lights of Midland and Toro Rosso to the end of the season. Still the team finishes with no point and last in the standings.
The SA05 was basically being used as the team’s guinea pig as for the team to prepare the late arrival of the SA06. Although an absolutely unreliable car, an erratic driver at the wheels and almost having no experience in Formula 1. The car did put on a hell of a show as it battles the newer teams like Midland and Toro Rosso with Takuma Sato fighting through the pack in a much slower car. Though it’s not remembered by many people, it’s still remembered as the car that brought one of the worst ever driver in the history of the sports.