Kurt Verlin
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Sauber and Honda Call Off 2018 Formula 1 Engine Deal

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Marcus Ericsson in the Sauber C36

Photo: Artes Max

The engine deal between the Sauber F1 team and Honda has been cancelled, leaving the former without an engine supplier for the 2018 Formula One season, at the present time.

The original deal had been put together by Masashi Yamamoto and Monisha Kaltenborn, Honda’s motorsport general manager and Sauber’s former team principal, respectively, but following Kaltenborn’s departure in June before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, there was talk that the two parties couldn’t agree on how to move forward.

“It is very unfortunate that we have to discontinue the planned collaboration with Honda at this stage,” said Frédéric Vasseur, Sauber’s new team principal. “However, this decision has been made for strategic reasons, and with the best intent for the future of the Sauber F1 Team in mind. We would like to thank Honda for their collaboration, and wish them all the best for their future in Formula One.”

“During discussions after management changes at the team, we reached a mutual agreement to call-off the project due to differences in the future directions of both parties,” said Yamamoto, before adding that “Honda’s passion for motorsports and strong commitment to Formula One remains unchanged.”

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The latter part of his statement is of key importance, as Honda is now once again down to supplying just one team (McLaren) in Formula One, and this has been at least partly responsible for its struggle to catch up to the other engine manufacturers, all of which power at least three teams and can thus collect three times as much data.

There is still a chance that Honda may find itself without a team to supply by 2018, as McLaren has reportedly been looking to return to Mercedes power after being let down by the Japanese manufacturer three years on the trot and with no signs of improvement on the horizon.

The 2017 season has so far proven to be McLaren’s worst and the team is quickly losing sponsors and the ability to retain its top driver, Fernando Alonso, to the point that even Honda’s significant financial backing (it supplies McLaren’s engines for free and pays Alonso’s $40 million salary) may not be enough to compensate for the damage to the McLaren brand.

Separating from Honda also complicates matters for Sauber, as the deadline for submitting the teams’ 2018 engine suppliers to the FIA is already past, which means the supplier can only be changed if all other nine teams unanimously agree. Still, it doesn’t seem Sauber is too concerned with this: “the new Sauber engine partner will be announced shortly,” their statement says.

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Source: Sauber F1 Team

Kurt Verlin was born in France and lives in the United States. Throughout his life he was always told French was the language of romance, but it was English he fell in love with. He likes cats, music, cars, 30 Rock, Formula 1, and pretending to be a race car driver in simulators; but most of all, he just likes to write about it all. See more articles by Kurt.