McLaren and Sauber allude to working closer next year

Sauber C36 and McLaren Honda MCL32 - Spanish GP 2017 FP1. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team CEO Zak Brown and Sauber F1 Team Boss Monisha Kaltenborn anticipate forming closer ties once the Swiss squad becomes a customer of Japanese engine manufacturer Honda, in 2018.

Despite the troubled start to the 2017 season, and following two years of difficult times for Honda and McLaren, Sauber announced they have struck a deal to be powered by the Japanese company next year.

McLaren were initially against the idea of another team running the Honda engine, as they strived to maintain exclusivity, but now Brown believes that input from another team would be beneficial to the Woking based squad and could also aid Honda in finding a solution to their lack of power, as he explained to recently.

“I think more data the better, as you get more data you learn more so I think it is a good thing Sauber will be running with Honda.

“Honda will benefit from that, therefore we will benefit from that.

“Everyone at McLaren is happy about the arrangement. There is no division of opinion.”

An alliance between the two could see McLaren run a similar set-up to Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso, using Sauber as a junior team to bring through their young driver talent, though the American advised that scenario has not yet been discussed.

“We have not had any conversations, but it’s natural when you have two teams that share a common power that ultimately those two teams start working more closely together in both teams’ mutual benefit.

“That can take place in many shapes and forms from technical, driver to sponsor. We’ve not had those conversations but they will be a partner in the power unit and therefore someone who we want to build a closer relationship with.”

Kaltenborn agreed that it was not beyond the realm of possibility that such a partnership could work for both parties in the future, but right now, it is only early days in their deal with Honda, and plans have not been discussed.

“At the end of the day it’s the team’s decision, and also the team’s responsibility to have good drivers. And like we’ve done in the past, even with our current engine supplier, Ferrari, that we’ve discussed these kind of issues with the key partner.

“We have also taken drivers from our engine supplier because it was the right thing to do there. It’s something that we’re open to and we’ll see how it pans out. “In terms of sponsorship I think it’s far too early to look at these things. We’ve just announced the deal. So we’ll see how that develops as well.”

The Haas F1 Team are another squad to have benefited from a close relationship with another competitor, teaming up with Scuderia Ferrari who not only supply them with a power unit, but also gave them access to their wind tunnel and provided parts, as well as imparting knowledge on the American squad.

The deal ultimately allowed Haas to seamlessly join the F1 world championship in 2016 and hold their own, whilst many past new entrants failed to survive.

There are many benefits to working in close harmony with a fellow adversary, and as things stand, both McLaren and Sauber could certainly do with finding a catalyst that could initiate a change in their fortunes.