Formula 1

Gearbox worries stalled Honda deal, says Sauber boss Vasseur

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Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Sauber F1 Team boss Frederic Vasseur cited the uncertainty over gearbox supply as a crucial factor in the Swiss Formula 1 team’s decision to cancel its deal with Honda.

Having agreed a deal in April under the stewardship of former principal Monisha Kaltenborn, Honda was expected to supply its powertrains to Sauber for 2018 onwards, and as a result, they would have relied on a gearbox supply contract from the McLaren F1 Team but, with the Woking team’s own future with Honda uncertain, it meant that Vasseur had to cancel the deal with the Japanese manufacturer.

“Leaving aside the current issues that Honda has with reliability or performance – as I know that they will come back at some point – the biggest concern for us was that we could not secure the responsibility of the gearbox,” Vasseur said on the official F1 website.

“We don’t have the resources internally to build our own gearbox, so we knew that we had to deal with someone.  With Honda we would have to deal with McLaren, but I was not so confident that McLaren would continue with Honda.

“So it would have created a strange situation: asking McLaren to provide the gearbox for a Honda engine when McLaren could be running another engine.  With this kind of scenario I was absolutely not confident.”

Having rekindled its relationship with Ferrari, Sauber will receive up-to-date engines next year having run year-old specification components this year. With a secure engine deal, the engineers at Hinwil have been able to continue making progress with its 2018 car.

“Sauber had already started the design of the 2018 car before I took the decision and that was the reason for the rush – so as not to throw good money at abandoned projects.

“The design was already in progress, then there was the factory shutdown, so we had to take the decision [to take Ferrari engines] right away.”

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