Britain's Anthony Davidson found himself at a career crossroads after the Super Aguri team announced their withdrawal from this year's Formula One World Championship yesterday.
They had been struggling ever since a proposed takeover by the Magma Group foundered in April, and a rescue package from Franz Josef Weigl's German automotive group was deemed insufficient at a critical Honda Board meeting in Tokyo yesterday.
Super Aguri, run by former Formula One driver Aguri Suzuki, was set up with Honda's help in 2006 to save the manufacturer's face as they decided to replace Takuma Sato in their BAR Honda works team. The little team, one of the most popular in the paddock, scored their first championship points in Spain last year, and their zenith came when Davidson's team-mate Sato finished sixth in Canada shortly afterwards.
"In order to realise my dream to become an owner of a F1 team, I applied for a grid position in November 2005," Suzuki said. "I have participated in the championship for two years and four months as the Super Aguri F1 Team, but regretfully I must inform you that the team will be ceasing its racing activities as of today.
"The team has succeeded in obtaining the first points after only the 22nd race. However, the breach of contract by the promised partner SS United Oil & Gas Company resulted in the loss of financial backing and put the team in financial difficulties. Also, the change in direction of the environment surrounding the team, in terms of the use of customer chassis, has affected our ability to find partners."
The disappearance of Super Aguri reduces the field to 10 teams and 20 cars, and all outfits are now able to claim prize money and travel concessions.
Suzuki's chances were not helped by opposition to the team from Honda F1 Racing principals Ross Brawn and Nick Fry, who want the manufacturer to focus solely on their works effort. The writing was on the wall when, following a late decision to race recently in Spain, the team's trucks and transporters were denied access to the paddock in Turkey's Istanbul Park last Sunday.
Ironically, Sato said recently: "Honda are famous for their racing spirit, and I am sure this will not desert them now."
* The sport's governing body, the FIA, has appointed "an independent expert", Anthony Scrivener QC, to investigate the allegations that the organisation's president, Max Mosley, took part in a "Nazi-style" orgy with prostitutes.
Raced past: Formula One teams who have seen the wheels come off
* Arrows went into liquidation in January 2003 after being barred from the championship. Had withdrawn from the Belgian Grand Prix and missed last five races of 2002 season. In 25 years and 382 starts, they never won a race.
* Prost, founded by Alain Prost, entered 1997, declared bankrupt in 2002.
* Lola entered in 1997 and departed weeks later before the second race. Neither of their cars had qualified for the season-opener.
* Lotus, former champions who gave Ayrton Senna his first win, left in January 1995.
* Simtek, British-based, went into receivership in 1995 after promised sponsorship dried up.
* Forti, Italian-based, were wound up in 1996.
* Andrea Moda, previously Coloni, were banned from the 1992 championship for tarnishing the image of the sport after team head Antonio Sassetti was charged with fraud.
* Brabham, former champions, founded by Australian world champion Jack Brabham and once owned by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone, failed in 1992 after being sold to a Swiss financier who was subsequently jailed for fraud. Gave Damon Hill his debut.
* Other teams to have departed over the years include AGS, BRM, Cooper, Dallara, EuroBrun, Fittipaldi, Hesketh, Larrousse, March, Matra, Osella, Pacific, Shadow, Vanwall, Wolf and Zakspeed.Reuse content