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Cash crisis forces Super Aguri out of F1

  • Story Highlights
  • Japanese team Super Aguri withdraws from 2008 Formula One championship
  • Team founder Aguri Suzuki laments the loss of sponsorship deals in past year
  • Suzuki thanks both team drivers for fighting hard under very difficult conditions
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By Glen Scanlon
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LONDON, England -- Super Aguri have pulled out of the 2008 Formula One world championship after struggling for weeks to raise enough funding to continue.

Super Aguri owner Aguri Suzuki watches his team prepare for what turned out to be their final race in Spain.

The Japanese team have desperately been trying to raise funding to continue racing after a deal announced in March fell through.

Super Aguri had confirmed an agreement with the Magma Group, a London-based automotive technology and investment company, regarding a deal worth tens of millions but that was withdrawn late last month.

The team had been in talks with German automotive firm Wiegl Group to replace the funding. However, team founder Aguri Suzuki said on Tuesday that after two years in Formula One they had to withdraw.

"Regretfully I must inform you that the team will be ceasing its racing activities as of today."

Suzuki said they had competed against the major manufacturer backed teams, earning points after only their 22nd race.

He said a breach of contract by SS United Group Company Limited, the oil and gas company the team signed a deal with before the start of the 2007 season, left them with financial difficulties. They were forced to lay-off staff over the winter to help free funds for this season.

Suzuki said with Honda's help the team had somehow managed to keep going.

"But we find it difficult to establish a way to continue the activities in the future within the environment surrounding F1 and as a result, I have concluded to withdraw from the championship.

"I would like to express my deepest thanks to Honda, Bridgestone, the sponsors, all the people who have given us advice during various situations over the past couple of years, all the team staff who have kept their motivations high and always done their best."

He also thanked drivers Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato, whom he said had "fought hard" under very difficult conditions.

Super Aguri had the smallest budget of any F1 team, estimated to be $90m, and have relied on support from Honda. Toyota are believed to top the spending pile dominated by the manufacturers, lavishing up to $550m a year on their bid to overhaul the top teams.

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