If there is one person who can emerge victorious from such a large challenge it is Livio Suppo, who joins Suzuki after a long experience in MotoGP. The culmination of his great career is the title won with Ducati in 2007 thanks to Casey Stoner, the only one who has so far been brought to Borgo Panigale. After signing with Honda in 2010 (initially as communications director) he won five other world championships, in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, forming a tandem with Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC director at the time. In a move that took him by surprise, the golden wing manufacturer then decided to relieve Suppo from his post at the end of 2017 to put Alberto Puig in his place. Since then, the Turin-born has focused on a project in the field of electric bicycles, although his intention was to return to the MotoGP paddock. Now he will do it with the Suzuki uniform and without a minute to lose.
Covid permitting, Suppo will fly to Qatar next week, where the 2022 season will begin. There he will have to start taking on the many tasks that Shinichi Sahara has left unfinished in recent months. As the Japanese himself acknowledged when asked, he was completely overwhelmed by the farewell of Davide Brivio, who moved to Formula 1 with Alpine last year. In large part, this was due to the fact that he underestimated the tasks that fell on the previous manager and that at first he saw himself in a position to manage, together with the technical question, his main task.
Once he realized the mistake, Sahara put in place the strategy of recovering Brivio as the main objective. However, the Italian will stay one more year in Formula 1 with Alpine, albeit with a different role taking care of young drivers and non-Formula 1 sporting projects. Alpine’s reorganization was announced on Thursday and a week later Suzuki announced the arrival of Suppo, fully aware of the fact that he was not at the top of the list for this role, even though his name was on the list of candidates. Aware of this, weeks of hectic work await the new head of the Hamamatsu House which will most likely also define his path in the team.
One of the main issues that will have to unravel is the line-up of drivers for next year, because both Joan Mir and Alex Rins are due to expire at the end of 2022. According to what Sahara acknowledged in one of the statements released this winter to Motorsport. com, its intention is to renew the agreement with both of them. “Suzuki wants to renew the riders and has already communicated them”, he told the author of these lines. The extension of the contract with Mir is fundamental both in the strictly competitive and in the emotional aspect: indirectly it would reaffirm the aspirations of a team which lately began to have doubts about the solidity of the project and the ambitions of the world championships. In any case, it will be necessary to know how the Majorcan will digest the arrival of his new boss. Rins, on the other hand, had no problem stating that he missed Brivio and would like to have him again.
Parallel to these negotiations, Suppo will have to recover a team that in the last part of last year felt abandoned by the Sahara, totally focused on the technical aspect and which neglected human management, which in Brivio’s time had been fundamental to understand the Suzuki’s sporting success and harmony.
And all this will have to be done while the championship is in progress and without being aware of the dynamics of a very particular structure, in which any relevant decision must be transferred to the top management of the group, in Japan, where there is anything but hurry. There, no doubt, they will follow him closely as he insists that he is as good at occupying the role of team manager just like his predecessor.
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