Erstwhile Formula One team owner Gian Carlo Minardi has expressed sympathy for Aguri Suzuki, after the latter was forced to call time on his grand prix dream after running into financial problems.

Suzuki made the tough decision to close Super Aguri F1 on Tuesday [6 May], even though rescue plans were still being tabled. Owing a large, if undisclosed sum, to technical partner Honda, SAF1 was struggling to make the Turkish Grand Prix, and had even been barred from the paddock on the orders of Honda F1 CEO Nick Fry, who was apparently working on behalf of senior management in Tokyo eager to avoid the embarrassment of having a team in the paddock but not running in the race.

Minardi recalled continually living hand-to-mouth through the latter years of his involvement, with the man who bought into the team, Paul Stoddart, also being forced to get out of Formula One when costs and politics became to much for him to sustain. Minardi is currently owned by Dietrich Mateschitz, but the Red Bull drinks magnate has recently admitted that, with the demise of the 'customer car' option for new teams, he will be looking to offload his second team in the next year or so.

"I have lived in Aguri Suzuki's situation, and can understand what his state of mind is at this moment," Minardi said, "I also know Aguri and am very sympathetic to his situation.

"Unfortunately, F1 is not really interested in a team so small, especially one that has economic problems. This happened in the past, not only with the Minardi team, but also with others. We are useful for as long as we help to create numbers, promotion and interest - as happened when Super Aguri was created to help provide a second platform for the choices facing Honda, and to run a Japanese pilot when faced with protests in their country.

"Maybe the time came when those benefits fell and the [Honda] team principal was no longer interested in having a more stable satellite [team]. Currently, F1 does not appear to see the various struggles that there are at the back [of the grid]. Given that the machines have now reached a good level of reliability, the survival of a small team fades into the background."

Super Aguri fell foul of both the sudden U-turn on the use of so-called 'customer cars' and the disappearance of a major sponsor midway through the 2007 campaign, which left it fighting for money through the second half of the season and jeopardised 2008 even before it had begun. Talks with various potential partners bore little fruit until Martin Leach's Magma Group appeared to have brought Gulf region money on board. When that deal collapsed on the eve of the Spanish Grand Prix, SAF1 was thrown into a tailspin from which it never recovered, consigning it to the growing list of short-lived F1 operations.


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