- September 08, 1960
- Not Active
Aguri Suzuki is a former racing driver from Japan who competed in various championships, including Formula 1, and after retiring he was an owner of the Aguri team.
As a driver, he recorded 88 entries (64 starts) in the Formula 1 World Championship between 1988 and 1995, scoring one podium with the third place at 1990 Japanese Grand Prix.
Two-time Japanese karting champion early in a career
Born in September 1960 in Tokyo, Aguri started to race with go-karts at the age of 12. Over the years Suzuki progressed through the national ranks eventually becoming Japanese kart champion in 1978 what opened him the door the Japanese Formula 3 in the following year.
Parallel to his F3 duties, Aguri continued to race karts until 1981 when he won the national title for the second time. The next Suzuki’s success was becoming the Japanese Formula 3 runner-up in 1983. He repeated the same two years later.
Japanese touring car champion in 1986, F3000 champion in 1988
Suzuki left single-seaters in 1986 to start a career in touring cars racing. As a member of the Nissan factory team, he became the national champion in his first JTCC season. The same year Suzuki also debuted in the Japanese Formula 2 and also had the first appearance in Le Mans 24 Hours, not finishing the race in a Nissan R86V.
In 1987, he finished second in the Japanese Formula 3000, driving a March-Cosworth for Footwork. He returned to Le Mans and recorded one more DNF with Nissan. In 1988, he improved his performance in the Formula 3000 and won the national championship. At Le Mans, he recorded third consecutive DNF with Nissan.
Seven failures and one podium at Le Mans 24 Hours
During his career, Suzuki enrolled a total of eight appearances at Circuit de la Sarthe with Nissan and Toyota teams, but seven of them ended with the retirements. He recorded DNFs in 1990 (Toyota 90C.V), 1996 (Nissan Skyline GT-R LM) and 1997 (Nissan R390 GT1), finally reaching the finish line in 1998.
In that race, he finished third in the #32 Nissan R390 GT1 of Nissan Motorsports/TWR, sharing a car with Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Masahiko Kageyama. One more unsuccessful attempt at Le Mans followed in 1999 in a Nissan R391.
Suzuki debuted in F1 at his home Grand Prix
After winning the Japanese F3000 title, Suzuki debuted in the Formula 1, at 1988 Japanese Grand Prix, driving for Larrousse and replacing Yannick Dalmas. Aguri finished 16th in the race at Suzuka Circuit what was a solid start for the Japanese driver.
In 1989 Suzuki signed with Zakspeed, small German team which was using Yamaha V8 engines. It was a horrible season for Aguri who failed to pre-qualify for any of 16 races that year what was a really unenviable record.
The only F1 podium at 1990 Japanese Grand Prix
After a terrible year with Zakspeed, Suzuki in 1990 returned to Larrouse. The French team used Lola-Lamborghini cars but had a considerable success. Despite having too many retirements, Aguri was able to qualify for each of 16 races.
He also picked points at Silverstone and Jerez before scoring his only podium finish by taking the 3rd place in 1990 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, behind Benetton drivers Nelson Piquet and Roberto Moreno. With 6 points on his account, Suzuki finished 12th in the championship what was his biggest achievement.
Unfortunately, the following season wasn’t as good. However, the start of 1991 was good after Aguri scored one point after finishing 6th in the US Grand Prix but the rest of the year was awful. He failed to finish any of other 15 races and even failed to qualify in four occasions. At the end of the year, Suzuki left the team but stayed in Formula 1.
Move to Footwork and retirement after a heavy crash
In 1992 and 1993 Suzuki was a pilot of Footwork-Honda. The team was unable to prepare a competitive car and Aguri both seasons finished empty-handed. The first year with the team was better after he was able to finish most of the races but the second campaign again was one to forget after Aguri retired from 11 out of 16 races.
He missed most of the 1994 season, having only one start with Jordan at the Pacific Grand Prix, but again retired from the race. Suzuki returned to action in 1995 sharing the seat of Ligier with Martin Brundle. At the German Grand Prix Suzuki scored his last point by finishing 6th. At the end of the year, he crashed heavily in qualifying for the Japanese GP and injured his neck and decided to retire from the sport.
Aguri Suzuki as the team owner
After putting his helmet off, he launched his own scheme to promote young Japanese drivers. In 2000, with a backing of Autobacs, Suzuki formed his own squad which won the Super GT title in 2002. The team later expanded to DTM and IRL but without too much success.
In 2006, Aguri was head of the Super Aguri F1 Team which was backed by Honda. In its first year, the team failed to score a single point, but in the following year, Takuma Sato won four points to move up the team from the bottom of the Constructors’ championship. After completing four rounds of 2008 season, the team retired from the championship due to financial troubles.
Suzuki had another try with his team, this time in the FIA Formula E Championship from 2014 to 2016 when the Chinese Media Capital took over the team.