We tend to forget that, in every race, someone has to come last. And the guys fulfilling this useful role most often in 2006 have been the Super Aguri team. I was fairly dismissive of their efforts in my previous post on them, but it may be that I was wrong. A study of the fastest laps in the Brazilian Grand Prix reveals the surprising information that the Aguri drivers managed to be seventh and ninth fastest.
Okay, we can point out that these times were done fairly late in the race after some cars had retired and others were taking it easy to ensure finishing. But the Aguri times are up there with drivers who were still involved in the battle to keep Michael Schumacher back:
4 Jenson Button, Honda, Lap 70, 1:13.053
5 Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault, Lap 70, 1:13.121
6 Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Lap 58, 1:13.281
7 Sakon Yamamoto, Super Aguri, Lap 67, 1:13.379
8 Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Lap 48, 1:13.391
9 Takuma Sato, Super Aguri, Lap 47, 1:13.401
10 Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rossi, Lap 69, 1:13.687
To be amongst that sort of company, the car must have become increasingly competitive as the race progressed. The Renault team had the decency to share their championship champagne with the Super Aguri guys, recognizing that Sato’s tenth place finish was an important milestone for the tail-enders.
This was achieved with a car that is still essentially an ancient Arrows chassis, considerably modified and powered by a Honda engine. Next year the team will have to produce a chassis from scratch and that will be an important step forward for them. Their goal must be to move away from the tail end of the field, although it is difficult to see who would take their place. All of the smaller teams go into 2007 with high expectations and it is impossible to predict who will be successful and who won’t.
But things look brighter than I expected for Super Aguri and, when we hear that Anthony Davidson is in with a good chance of racing for them next season, we can have some hope that he will do well.