Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur has explained why the team decided to cancel its deal with Honda for 2018. Former team boss Monisha Kaltenborn negotiated the deal before being ousted on the build-up to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
After Vasseur arrived, the deal was quickly cancelled, before the Hinwil squad announced it had signed a new deal with Ferrari to run with up-to-date Italian units. Vasseur admitted that Honda's lack of speed and reliability wasn't the only reason it was dropped.
"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," he stated to Formula1.com.
"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."
Vasseur's previous job in F1 was the team principal of Renault, a position he held for just one year in 2016. When asked how does a privateer team like Sauber compare to a worldwide brand like Renault, he replied by saying that there is not much difference.
"There is no big difference. The situation is quite similar: we have to improve. We have analysed where we are – we did analysis of each department – and the first decision was to stick with the partnership with Ferrari. That was probably the most important decision, as it will be a mid-term partnership. We can’t change engines permanently from one year to the other. We will stay with Ferrari until the end of the period – that was a crucial decision."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing