Sauber Formula 1 chief Frederic Vasseur has explained the decision to cancel a planned technical partnership with Honda for 2018 and extend its long-running agreement with Ferrari.
Sauber has enjoyed an engine supply from Ferrari since 2010, but announced in April that it would be linking up with Honda for 2018 as part of an extensive technical partnership.
The deal hit the rocks following the departure of long-standing CEO and team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, with Sauber’s owners uneasy about teaming up with Honda given its public F1 struggles.
Ex-Renault F1 chief Vasseur was brought in to replace Kaltenborn, and moved to cancel the deal with Honda and secure a new agreement with Ferrari, as announced on Friday.
“Sauber and Honda signed a memorandum of understanding a couple of weeks ago but things move forward quite fast in our world,” Vasseur said.
“I think that the situation was a bit unclear also regarding the collaboration between McLaren and Honda and on our side the engine supplier had to find a solution for the gearbox. We had a deal with McLaren and the situation was a bit more complicated.
“On the other end, the collaboration with Ferrari is based on a long-term relationship and we had the opportunity to discuss with Ferrari to get the new-spec engine and I think it was a good choice and we found a mutual agreement with Honda to stop the collaboration.”
Vasseur believes the decision will help Sauber’s long-term growth, with the team currently lagging behind at the rear of the field following a period of uncertainty.
“The short term, that will be difficult to achieve something. It’s a long-term project for sure,” Vasseur said.
“But I think the basics are there. The facility is impressive compared to the other teams. I think we are in a good move. The wind tunnel is a good one and the team, I think that Sauber is still in F1 an iconic name and there is a real team spirit, quite comparable to the team spirit I had last year at Enstone.
“Everybody is really dedicated, pushy, and now that the financial structure is stabilized I think we can have some hope for the future.”