Sauber 'was not confident' over McLaren-Honda
29 August 2017 – Frédéric Vasseur says fears that McLaren could end its partnership with Honda played a major role in Sauber pulling out of a deal with the Japanese manufacturer.
Sauber announced an agreement with Honda for the supply of engines from 2018 back in April, but this was called off shortly after Vasseur arrived at the Swiss team in the summer.
McLaren has been sounding out rivals, amid Honda's ongoing struggles to produce a reliable and competitive engine, with Renault admitting to talks at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Vasseur has now explained that, with a McLaren gearbox set to be included in the Honda deal, doubts that the two parties could split led to Sauber extending its ties with Ferrari.
"Leaving aside the current issues that Honda has with reliability or performance, as I know that they will come back at some point, the biggest concern for us was that we could not secure the responsibility of the gearbox," said Vassuer in an interview with the official Formula 1 website.
"We don't have the resources internally to build our own gearbox, so we knew that we had to deal with someone.
"With Honda we would have to deal with McLaren, but I was not so confident that McLaren would continue with Honda, so it would have created a strange situation: asking McLaren to provide the gearbox for a Honda engine when McLaren could be running another engine.
"With this kind of scenario I was absolutely not confident, so the 'reprocessing' of the Honda deal was one of the biggest issues for Sauber."
Vasseur put the Honda situation at the top of his list when he became Sauber's new team boss, replacing Monisha Kaltenborn.
"Sauber had already started the design of the 2018 car before I took the decision and that was the reason for the rush – so as not to throw good money at abandoned projects," he said.
"The design was already in progress, then there was the factory shutdown [for the summer break], so we had to take the decision right away."