The late decision to cancel the planned switch to Honda and continue with Ferrari power for 2018 gave the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team mechanics an extra headache, but team principal Frederic Vasseur felt it is a ‘huge step’ for the team to gain sponsorship from Alfa Romeo.
Vasseur joined Sauber mid-season following the departure of Monisha Kaltenborn, and immediately set about turning around the fortunes of the team, cancelling the contract with Honda and securing a deal with Ferrari to run with 2018 power units.
That partnership was then extended to include the sponsorship from Alfa Romeo, while Ferrari Driver Academy star Charles Leclerc has joined Marcus Ericsson in the driver line-up, and Vasseur admits the alliance with Alfa Romeo is an exciting prospect, but one they will need to build on to make it succeed.
“It’s not extra work on the technical side because we were already flat-out,” said Vasseur to RACER. “The situation is that we changed from Honda to the Ferrari engine and the Alfa Romeo deal quite late because it was the end of July, so for sure we delayed the design a little bit, but it was on purpose.
“On the technical side for sure we are a little bit late and for the company and the marketing and communications team it was also tricky. To have a title sponsor for the team is a good move, but also a huge step and we have to reinforce every single department and recruit a lot and so on.
“But for sure it was an exciting time as well as a tricky one. It’s much better to have this problem than to have to deal with the guys in the factory having nothing to do!”
Vasseur has revealed that the team had to do some redesigning of the rear of the car following the switch from Honda back to Ferrari, but that has been quickly rectified, and the focus is now purely on the development of the car.
“For sure when we decided come back to the Ferrari engine the design of the car with the Honda engine was already started,” said Vasseur. “That meant a small delay when we had to redesign the back of the car to change the approach a little bit, but that’s life.
“It’s not a big deal, it’s more of a rush for the team but now we have a long-term deal and it’s not a problem if for a couple of weeks at the beginning it is an issue, we have to be focused on the next years and not on the last weeks.”