When it was announced that Honda would supply its engines to Sauber from 2018 it looked like a pretty good deal for everyone. Honda would have an extra, less high-profile team to develop it’s technology, and Sauber would have a proper manufacturer tie-up rather than having to make do with whatever Ferrari give them.
But now it’s looking like that deal might not even happen according to a series of reports and rumours, which will leave Sauber looking for a new engine deal for 2018.
A report from Germany suggested that Honda has called off the deal because of the departure of Monisha Kaltenborn as team principal. This was apparently one of the points of disagreement between her and the team, which led to Kaltenborn leaving the the Swiss squad and therefore prompting Honda to end its deal.
However further reports suggest that the deal between Sauber and Honda was never officially completed in the first place, which is why it’s been so easy for the relationship to end before it even really started. A Honda spokesperson said:
“This is purely media speculation, and we do not comment on speculation. Honda’s relationship with Sauber has not changed.”
Sauber’s owners apparently wanted to ensure a competitive engine for next year, and the last thing you could describe Honda’s current F1 engine as is reliable. The move could see Sauber continue it’s long-running Ferrari deal or potentially even make the switch to Mercedes – after all, Pascal Wehrlein is a Mercedes junior driver.
It remains to be seen what will happen as nothing has been officially announced yet. With McLaren looking more and more likely to end it’s troubled relationship with Honda at the end of the year though, if the Sauber deal falls through it could mean we see the Japanese manufacturer out of F1 altogether in 2018.