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Vasseur eager to resolve Sauber’s ‘Honda question’ for 2018

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Newly-appointed Sauber Formula 1 chief Frederic Vasseur is eager to resolve the team’s “Honda question” for 2018 amid speculation that its announced deal could be scrapped.

Sauber announced a power unit deal with Honda for 2018 over the Russian Grand Prix weekend prior to former team principal and CEO Monisha Kaltenborn’s departure from the team.

Kaltenborn left ahead of last month’s race in Azerbaijan after a disagreement with team chairman Pascal Picci, with reports suggesting the Honda deal was a key point of contention.

Multiple outlets including Auto Bild and Autosport claimed earlier this week that Sauber’s deal with Honda had not been completed despite the announcement, putting it at risk for 2018 following the change in leadership.

Honda’s lack of competitiveness is apparently a concern for Sauber’s top management, and Vasseur confirmed to French newspaper L’Equipe that he too has qualms.

“The Honda question is on the table. It’s the first one I’m going to work on,” Vasseur said.

“We need to take care of this quickly. In light of what I hear from McLaren, it can be scary.”

Should Sauber scrap the deal, Honda may be left without any teams to supply in F1 next year as McLaren continues to deliberate its future engine partner.

McLaren has languished at the back of the grid for much of the season, leaving the relationship with Honda close to breaking point.

The British team has been linked with engine deals with Mercedes, Renault and even Ferrari for 2018 as it looks to move back up the grid, making it possible that Honda may have a year out of the sport if they too part ways and no other contracts are secured.

Usain Bolt, Bill Clinton among headline guests for USGP at COTA

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The Circuit of The Americas paddock ahead of the United States Grand Prix may have been busy with teams and drivers preparing for lights out, but much of the attention lay with a number of headline guests including former presidents and Olympic champions.

As part of its plans to up the excitement levels ahead of Sunday’s grand prix and mirror other sporting events, F1’s new owner, Liberty Media, announced plans a couple of weeks ago to link up with iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer and eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt for the pre-race festivities.

Ahead of today’s race in Austin, Buffer will introduce the drivers in a number of groups before offering the call for drivers to start their engines, similar to the pre-race procedure for the Indianapolis 500.

Honorary race starter Bolt, who competed in his last athletic world championship event in London earlier this year, will appear on the start line to complete his signature victory pose before waving the green flags to launch the formation lap.

Bolt was also treated to a hot lap around COTA by Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton before the start of the formal pre-race build up program in Austin.

Liberty issued a list of celebrities and other public figures who are confirmed to be attending today’s race, including Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden and actor Owen Wilson among others.

One name that wasn’t on the list? 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who quickly became a focus for the paddock upon arrival three hours before lights out.

The United States Grand Prix is live on NBC and NBC Sports app from 2pm ET today.