Sauber Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was quick to squash rumors of a switch to Honda power units for the remainder of the 2017 F1 season.
It’s odd to think that anyone would consider switching to Honda power units for the duration of the 2017 Formula 1 season but that hasn’t stopped the rumor mills to stop churning. According to Racer.com on their report on if the rumors were true earlier today (Mar. 30, 2017) Sauber Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn firmly stated that, “No” Sauber wasn’t considering a switch away from Ferrari to Honda so early on in the season. Rumors started swirling amidst McLaren getting into contact with Mercedes for a possible engine switch themselves. The remainder of their Honda PU allocation and engineering would then be handed over to Sauber, but no such decision has been made.
Furthermore, Racer.com contacted head of Honda’s F1 Project Yusuke Hasegawa and he too denied any talks with Sauber for a possible engine switch.
“For me it’s not a fact, so I don’t care. Nothing has changed in the current situation. It’s easy to deny because it’s just a rumor. Of course, we don’t want to [switch].”
As far as power units are concerned and the future of Sauber, Kaltenborn added that their focus on the meantime is for the 2018 season when their contract with Ferrari ends. Kaltenborn did admit that Sauber is open to power units, including Honda for next year.
Sauber is currently running a power unit that is one-year-old due to a delay in reaching an agreement in aerodynamic and aero rules for the 2017 season. Engine development for the 2017 season compared to last year saw minimal changes that would drastically affect the performance of their Sauber C36. Besides, Kaltenborn stated that it was chassis performance they’re focused on this year.
If there are any areas that would behoove Sauber to take a second look at it’s possibly their driver development more so than their engines. Most were surprised by the performance that development driver Antonio Giovinazzi laid down when called in to replace Pascal Wehrlein at the last minute. Wehrlein is currently being criticized for passing on the Australian Grand Prix due to a back problem stemming from an injury at The Race of Champions. Kaltenborn supported Wehrlein’s decision.
So for the meantime, Sauber is sticking with Ferrari power units. No, they aren’t talking to Honda but yes they are open to a Honda power unit for 2018.