Sauber has confirmed that its planned Formula 1 engine deal and technical partnership with Honda for 2018 has been canceled.
Sauber announced at the end of April that it had struck a deal to use Honda power units from 2018 as part of a new partnership with the Japanese manufacturer, brokered by then-CEO and team boss Monisha Kaltenborn.
Kaltenborn’s departure ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June threw the deal into doubt amid a dispute with team chairman Pascal Picci, with the incoming Frederic Vasseur tasked with resolving the matter.
In a statement issued by Sauber on Thursday, it was confirmed that the deal with Honda had been canceled, the team adding that its new engine partner would be “announced shortly”.
“It is very unfortunate that we have to discontinue the planned collaboration with Honda at this stage,” Vasseur said.
“However, this decision has been made for strategic reasons, and with the best intent for the future of the Sauber F1 Team in mind.
“We would like to thank Honda for their collaboration, and wish them all the best for their future in Formula 1.”
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.