Vasseur explains why Ferrari engine deal made sense for Sauber

Sauber F1 Team C36 and Scuderia Ferrari SF70-H. Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Having taken over at the helm of the Sauber F1 Team last month, Frederic Vasseur has wasted no time in sorting out who the squad’s engine supplier will be next year.

Previous Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who stepped down from her role with the Swiss team over differences of opinion with the owners in June, had struck a deal to go into partnership with Honda in 2018.

This was thought to be a strange move however, considering the continued reliability issues the Japanese manufacturer have had with their power unit since returning to F1 in 2015 with the McLaren F1 team.

Now that Kaltenborn has exited the company, owners Longbow Finance decided to renege on that deal, instead striking up new negotiations with current supplier Scuderia Ferrari.

This year, Sauber have been using year old Ferrari engines, which has not done them any favours performance wise, but the new agreement will see them receive up-to-date engines in 2018, and Vasseur confirmed ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday, that there were a number of different reasons why they decided to go with the Italian manufacturer.

“Sauber and Honda signed a memorandum of understanding a couple of weeks ago but things move forward quite fast in our world and I think that the situation was a bit unclear also regarding the collaboration between McLaren and Honda and on our side the engine supplier had to find a solution for the gearbox.

“We had a deal with McLaren and the situation was a bit more complicated.

“On the other end, the collaboration with Ferrari is based on a long-term relationship and we had the opportunity to discuss with Ferrari to get the new-spec engine, and I think it was a good choice and we found a mutual agreement with Honda to stop the collaboration.”

It is also believed that Ferrari academy drivers Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi could form some part of the deal, and either one or both could find themselves driving for Sauber in F1 next year. Leclerc is the odds on favourite of the pair, as he continues to impress in F2 championship, which he is currently dominating.

Great news that young talent is getting a look in, but bad news for current drivers Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein. Although, whether owners Longbow Finance would be willing or able to drop Ericsson, is a different matter entirely, considering their extremely close ties with the 26-year-old’s financial backers.

Wehrlein himself was also considered a talent of the future when he got his big break in F1, but appears to have lost his appeal somewhat since, though he is still backed by Mercedes who would no doubt help him to find another way in.