- Former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki has joined the ranks of Formula E team owners, as the electric car series continues to grow in stature.
- The Japanese entry brings the number of two-car teams to six.
- Suzuki was the first Japanese driver to score a podium finish in F1.
TOKYO — Aguri Suzuki, the first Japanese driver ever to score a Formula 1 podium finish, is joining the new Formula E Championship racing series for electric-powered cars with the Super Aguri Formula E team.
The announcement brings the number of commitments to six two-car teams, with four spots open on the anticipated grid of 20 cars. Other ex-Formula One drivers, including four-time world champion Alain Prost and ex-McLaren racer Michael Andretti are also associated with teams in the series.
Suzuki, 53, raced in F1 from 1988 through 1995, driving for Larousse, Zakspeed, Footwork, Jordan and Ligier. His best finish was 3rd, at his home track, Suzuka Circuit, in the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix.
Suzuki was owner of the Super Aguri F1 team, which entered competition in 2006 and withdrew four races into its third season in 2008. The team featured several Japanese drivers attempting to follow Suzuki to the top rank of motorsport, including Takuma Sato, Yuji Ide and Sakon Yamamoto.
Suzuki presently fields the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri (ARTS) team in Japan's Super GT series.
"Today is a new chapter for the Super Aguri name and I'm proud that our team will represent Japan in the inaugural Formula E series," Suzuki said in a statement. "Zero emissions racing is a progressive concept for the motorsport industry, and after more than 40 years as both a driver and team owner, I see Formula E as a great stride towards the future."
Suzuki noted Japan's prominent role in the advancement of electronics technology.
Mark Preston, who was part of the Super Aguri F1 effort, returns as team principal. "We're very pleased to have Super Aguri join the FIA Formula E Championship and to be welcoming yet another high-profile name onto the grid," Formula E Holdings CEO Alejandro Agag said. "Japan has a long and celebrated motorsport heritage, as well as one of the most prominent and largest car industries in the world."
The fifth Formula E team, to be fielded by four-time F1 champ Alain Prost, was announced October 24. The new entries join China Racing, Drayson Racing of Great Britain and American IndyCar participants Andretti Autosport and Dragon Racing.
Edmunds says: As Formula E continues to build momentum toward its launch in September 2014, the next breakthrough announcements will concern the drivers, none of whom have yet been named.