Sauber: Vasseur brought in; Honda called off

From the outside, things look a little choppy at Sauber. The departure of Monisha kalternborn, the weeks without a team boss and now the announced partnership with Honda seems to have been premature.

The departure of Kaltenborn is confirmed and visually obvious for the fan at home but what may not be as obvious is that the Honda engine supply contract was possibly one of the reasons for Monisha’s departure.

We didn’t dwell on the speculation that Kalternborn was asked to favor Marcus Ericsson as a possible reason as that seemed to be speculative and unsubstantiated. What could make more sense is the Honda deal if the new owners, Longbow Financial, aren’t keen on securing an underperforming power supply. The question is, can the team afford another uncompetitive season?

In an article over at Austosport, the consideration is that McLaren could be in line for a Ferrari power unit supply deal that would make it difficult for Sauber to fall back on their long relationship with the Italian manufacturer. This could leave a Mercedes supply deal open for the Swiss team and as they run Pascal Wehrlein, Merc’s junior driver, it could make sense and wouldn’t this add fuel to the fire if the Ericsson favoring rumors were true?

If McLaren do seek a Ferrari or Mercedes deal and Sauber land the option McLaren don’t take, then where does this leave Honda? Perhaps the deal with Sauber was reconsidered by Honda and the manufacturer would rather leave Formula 1? Time will tell.

Frédéric Vasseur

Sauber have, on the other hand, announced a new team boss in the form of former Renault man, Frédéric Vasseur.

Pascal Picci, Chairman:
“Frédéric Vasseur’s long and successful career in top level international motorsport speaks for itself, and we are thrilled to welcome him to Sauber.”

Frédéric Vasseur:
“I’m very proud to be joining Sauber Motorsport AG, and wish to thank the company’s shareholders for their trust in me. I’ve been impressed by the facilities in Hinwil and by the talent and ambition of the workforce, and I very much look forward to complementing the team with my experience and determination and drive all people in the right direction in everything they do: I am convinced that all together we will achieve ambitious targets. I cannot wait to start working with our drivers, engineers and all the staff. I look forward to contributing to the next important phase in the development of the team.”

While all of this is complicated and on the surface, not great, I do have to say that I think it is being driven by a desire to be successful, competitive and re-focused on the mission. I know many people in the press and social media have defended Monisha and slated Sauber but I’ve been on the opposite side of that argument. I’ve argued parting ways with Monisha for the last three seasons. This team and its new owners need a competitive engine, chassis, team boss and motivated personnel and infusion of cash in order to begin the rebuilding process. Peter Sauber ran this team in a there or thereabouts position for years, not at the back of the grid as back markers. Let’s hope Picci has deep pockets because that’s what it will take.

Hat Tip: Autosport