- September 08, 1960
- Not Active
Aguri Suzuki is a former racing driver from Japan who competed in various championships and after retiring was an owner of the Aguri team.
He was born on 8th of September 1960 in Tokyo and at the age of 12 began racing go-karts. 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. In 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. A bit surprisingly, he left single-seaters to start a career in touring cars racing. As a member of the Nissan factory team, he became the national champion in 1986. The same year Suzuki also debuted in the Japanese Formula 2 and also had the first appearance in Le Mans 24 Hours.
During his career, Suzuki enrolled a total of eight appearances at Circuit de la Sarthe with the Nissan and Toyota teams, but seven of them ended with the retirements. In 1998, the only time when he was able to end the race, Aguri finished 3rd driving a Nissan R390 GT1 alongside Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Masahiko Kageyama.
If the things at Le Mans weren’t brilliant for Suzuki, he was among the best formula drivers in his country. In 1987, driving for the Footwork Sports Racing Team, he was the Japanese Formula 3000 runner-up after scoring two wins.
However, the following year was marked by Aguri’s domination. Driving a March-Yamaha he scored three wins and three 2nd places on the way to becoming the series champion, taking a crown from his old rival Kazuyoshi Hoshino. After this triumph, he was ready for the bigger stage.
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.
After a terrible year with Zakspeed, Suzuki in 1990 returned to Larrouse. The French side 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, 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.
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.
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.