Sauber’s new deal to have Ferrari engines looks like it could well turn into something more than the simple engine supply it’s been in the past.
As well as actually getting current power units in 2018 (as opposed to the year-old ones it’s been running in 2017) it’s been suggested that Sauber could form a point of entry for some of the talented youngsters who are a part of Ferrari’s driver programme.
Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur has already implied that drivers are likely to be part of the new deal and when asked about it, Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne confirmed that it’s an idea he’s keen on, saying:
“It is an excellent idea and something we are working on. We need space because we have a couple of young drivers that are exceptional. We need to find a place to lay the foundations for the Scuderia Ferrari of tomorrow.”
Those ‘exceptional drivers’ are likely to be Antonio Giovinazzi, who impressed in GP2 last year and as a sub for Pascal Wehrlein at the start of this year, and Charles Leclerc, runaway championship leader in Formula 2 and a seriously hot prospect for the future.
Ferrari getting its young drivers into the sport has been a bit of a problem in the past as it seems the team would rather stick with Kimi Raikkonen than take a punt on someone who actually seems motivated to succeed, and effectively making Sauber its junior team would surely help with that process.
Ferrari is also happy to supply engines to any teams that should happen to join the sport in the next few years. Marchionne continued:
“Maurizio [Arrivabene] has worked hard in recent months. Going forward we will expand the number of customer teams. Both with Liberty Media and with the FIA, we have made a commitment to give support to the teams that are going to come. The more there are, the better for us.”
As exciting as the thought of new teams is it’s going to be a while before that actually happens. The chances of seeing Giovinazzi and Leclerc paired up at Sauber next year though seems very realistic. Two young, exciting and talented drivers effectively going head-to-head for a Ferrari seat could be something to savour, especially if Sauber can move up the grid a little bit.
So, expect news of Marcus Ericsson signing for a fourth season with Sauber soon…