Sauber hopes to be in a position to confirm its 2018 Formula 1 line-up at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in two weeks’ time as talks with Ferrari regarding its junior drivers continue.
Sauber announced in July it had struck a new, expanded partnership with Ferrari that will see it enjoy current-year power units from 2018, with the Italian marque also set to place at least one of its juniors at the team.
Formula 2 champion and Ferrari-backed junior Charles Leclerc is expected to take at least one of Sauber’s seats, having featured in practice for the team in Malaysia, the USA, Mexico and Brazil.
Fellow Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi raced as a stand-in for the injured Pascal Wehrlein at Sauber in Australia and China, and is also in contention for a seat, although Marcus Ericsson may be retained due to his links to the teams owners.
Asked when an announcement could be expected, Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur said he hoped to have the 2018 line-up finalized in the next two weeks in order to go public with the news in Abu Dhabi.
“We will do the announcement, I hope, in Abu Dhabi. For sure we’ll do it before Melbourne next year, and I won’t postpone it each week,” Vasseur said.
“But I think Charles is doing a good job. The situation in FP1 is not an easy one because the first target is to avoid crashing.
“He’s consistent and he always shows a strong pace, and he’s doing a good job.”
With a Leclerc/Ericsson or Leclerc/Giovinazzi line-up likely at Sauber next year, Mercedes youngster Wehrlein faces an uncertain F1 future, with Williams the only possible seat for him to take if he is to remain in the sport.