Honda will supply the Sauber F1 Team with its 1.6-litre turbo hybrid engines from 2018 onwards, it has been announced.
The deal is understood to be for at least three years, until the end of the current turbo-hybrid regulations, which will give the Swiss squad the potential to become more competitive and financially stronger than it has been in recent years.
The deal will see Sauber mate the Honda power unit with transmissions designed and developed by McLaren, Honda’s works team.
“It is a great honor for the Sauber F1 Team to be able to work together with Honda in the coming seasons,” said Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber CEO.
“Our realignment is not just visible through the new ownership but also now with our new technological partnership with Honda. We have set another milestone with this new engine era, which we await with huge excitement and of course we are looking for new opportunities.
“We very much look forward to our partnership with Honda, which sets the course for a successful future – from a strategic as well as from a technological perspective. We thank Honda for making this great partnership happen.”
Sauber is currently running one-year-old Ferrari engines in 2017 – ostensibly on the grounds of the high costs of a current-spec engine supply – and is suffering in its competitiveness as a result.
Honda returned to Formula 1 in 2015 with McLaren, reuniting with the Woking squad with whom it won three Drivers’ and four Constructors’ Championship titles between 1988 and 1991.
The partnership’s struggles in this chapter have been well-documented, with McLaren initially resisting Honda’s desire to partner with a second team to speed up the development of its currently underperforming and unreliable power units.
The deal also protects itself from being forced to supply another team in need of engines, which is a requirement under the current sporting regulations.
There has been rampant speculation in the media – headlined by former team owner-turned-pundit Eddie Jordan, whose predictions are rarely correct – that McLaren will revert to Mercedes power at the end of the year.
In truth, the team cannot afford to do so – financially and politically – and Mercedes itself does not want to be seen as the instigator of such a split, nor risk having its factory team being beaten by a customer outfit.
Since the turbo-hybrid regulations were introduced in 2014 all Mercedes-powered victories have come at the hands of the factory team, which is a record that the Stuttgart headquarters would like to maintain.
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