Most successful Japanese GP driver (to date?)
- Mattijs Diepraam
- 8W August 1998 issue, offers are kindly accepted to extend the length of this article!
- Toshio Suzuki - The belated Grand Prix debut of one of Japan's best, by Mattijs Diepraam
Aguri Suzuki (Alex Caffi, Satoru Nakajima)
Larrousse Calmels Lola-Cosworth LC88 (BMS Dallara-Cosworth F188, Lotus-Honda 100T)
1988 Japanese GP
The 1988 Japanese GP was not just the race in which Ayrton Senna powered to his first World Championship in style. It also saw the debut of Aguri Suzuki, or Super Aguri as he is known in his home country. Here he is seen leading his national predecessor in F1, Satoru Nakajima. Both had been champions in the top local category, Japanese F3000 (née F2), before bringing a Japanese influence to F1. Although his first showing didn't particularly serve any notice, Aguri was soon to eclipse Naka-san as best Japanese driver in history.
After this single Larrousse appearance (replacing Dalmas who had been hit by legionnaires disease) Suzuki had a disastrous year with the German Zakspeed team, failing to prequalify the full 16 times. But in 1990 he returned to the Larrousse nest and powered by a Lambo engine he drove outstandingly all year, his efforts culminating in a podium at his home Grand Prix, thereby topping Nakajima's best of two fourth places. But that was to be the highpoint of his F1 career. He slipped down the order with the Larrousse team and a subsequent signing for the languishing Footwork team effectively put him out of the frame. Local track knowledge helped him to a one-off appearance for Jordan at the Pacific GP at Aida in 1994, while Mugen forced Martin Brundle to share his Ligier with Aguri in 1995. But by then Suzuki showed he no longer had any business in F1, failing to impress on every occasion. A severe practice crash, ironically in front of his home crowd, ended his F1 career.
Like Nakajima, Aguri is now a team boss in Japan, his ARTA team fielding cars in the Formula Nippon and Japanese GT Championships.