Sauber and McLaren to use Honda engines in 2018

2018 F1 season

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Honda has confirmed it will supply engines to Sauber as well as McLaren from next year.

“In addition to the partnership with McLaren which began in 2015, Honda will begin supplying power units to Sauber as a customer team starting from next year,” confirmed Honda brand chief officer Katsuhide Moriyama.

“This will be a new challenge in Honda’s F1 activities. In order to leverage the benefits of supplying to two teams to the maximum extent, we will strengthen the systems and capabilities of both of our two development operations, namely HRD Sakura and the operation in Milton Keynes.”

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the announcement was a “great honour” for her team following the financial trouble it experienced last year.

“Our realignment is not just visible through the new ownership but also now with our new technological partnership with Honda.”

McLaren rejoined forces with Honda in 2015 but the Japanese manufacturer has struggled to master the new generation of power units. They are yet to achieve a podium finish together and haven’t scored a point since this season began.

The increasingly strained relationship between the two teams had prompted rumours McLaren could look elsewhere for engines in 2018.

Sauber has been a Ferrari engine customer since 1997, aside from its 2006-09 spell under the ownership of BMW. It is the only team in the field using last season’s power units this year. The team said it “thanks Ferrari for many years of collaboration in good as well as difficult times.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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69 comments on “Sauber and McLaren to use Honda engines in 2018”

  1. Now we can really see if that fabled McLaren chassis is any good

    1. Pascal Wehrlein shouting on the radio that his lap was perfect but ruined by the engine.

    2. We already know it, Mclaren’s chassis isn’t good and here is the evidence of it:

      1. That is a flawed comparison. Comparing timings doesn’t tell where the differences come from. To compare chassis you need to compare corner speeds.

        1. @socksolid

          That is a flawed comparison.

          Yes, extremely so. But:

          To compare chassis you need to compare corner speeds.

          That would be just as flawed. If a car lacks too much power, the sliding scale of lap time optimisation will favour a reduction of drag (and, consequently: downforce), so that the time loss on the straights is minimised, at the cost of a comparatively small, but nevertheless significant, loss of cornering speed.

          To give a highly hypothetical example: If the best chassis (let’s say the 2013 Red Bull, to avoid the question which current chassis is the best) were equipped with a literal GP2 engine (612 bhp), the best solution to achieve remotely competitive lap times could consist in sacrificing the car’s supreme cornering capabilities by running a Monza-style minimal downforce setup on every track.
          By looking at cornering speeds, the car would look ridiculous, but again, this wouldn’t really provide any insight as to how good the chassis is.
          There simply is no way to tell how good a chassis is, at least not from our armchairs. Anyone who claims to have deciphered the real potential of a chassis without using the teams’ own data, talks nonsense.

  2. As expected, really good news for Sauber that secures their future for the time being, for Honda as it gives them a platform to develop, and for McLaren as it might help them along.
    On another note, we really need more (car) manufacturers in F1. Look how deep Honda’s pockets are, supplying McLaren with 100m+ per year and now Sauber too will be on the receiving end of some serious R&D and money. Look at Williams, proud independent, resorting to Stroll, Force India resorting to Alfonso Celis, even Toro Rosso resorting to testing Sean Gelael. As the impetus does not seem to be on cutting costs in the sport, we need more manufacturers either joining the sport or hitching their wagons to existing teams. Sauber getting a big manufacturer to back them is a good start.

    1. Certainly good news for Sauber, but currently those honda PU are even worse than V8 Cosworth engines.

      1. Perhaps I am a naive optimist, but it’s Honda, with almost unlimited resources and decades of serious engine pedigree. They’ll get there, eventually.

        1. Sviatoslav (@)
          30th April 2017, 9:03

          @hahostolze – No, they won’t. They will never get anywhere until Hasegawa and everyone who is involved in managing Honda F1 program will resign.

          1. I think they will, rumoured Mercedes help, no restrictions on development and Liberty Media who will do what they can to level the playing field and make the racing more competitive over the next few years will see them catch up.

            The only thing holding Honda back was not been able to fully develop the engine without restrictions having been already several years behind. I wouldn’t put all the blame on the Honda management. They made the decision to start development to late and were restricted by the silly rules in place.

    2. What makes you think Honda is providing Sauber any “backing”? Sauber wires funds to Honda, Honda delivers crates of engines to Sauber. Sure, Honda will provide some engineering assistance, no different than assistance from Ferrari. It’s called “after sales technical support” in the B2B world. I don’t believe for a second that Honda is providing any financial assistance, i.e. sponsorship, to Sauber.

      1. Because Honda are desperate and Sauber aren’t.

        1. @hahostolze

          Honda are desperate and Sauber aren’t.

          You sure about that? Sauber have looked like a textbook example of a desperate team in the recent past.

      2. A pay driver doesn’t get a seat without paying a team. The exact same way a pay engine doesn’t get in the back of a car without paying a team.

        Would you actually believe that Sauber are going to Honda because of the performance of their PU? Don’t make me laugh

        1. Agreed. There is no way Sauber would take a crappy Honda engine without an incredible deal. Either the Honda engine is free or there is some other benefit to Sauber ditching the Ferrari engine. Especially since next year they would get this year’s engine.

          1. Cheaper engine means more money for R&D+talent….sign a multiyear contract with cheap, “developing” platform buys Sauber time to move up the grid….better than depleting budget with current stagnant engine (prev. year).

      3. Couldn’t have said it any better.

      4. Generally its not that Honda will pay Sauber, its that Sauber has to pay less for the engine. In addition to that Honda has probably put together a package that includes staff and so on, that will be made available to Sauber.

        All these things together brings down the running costs for the Sauber team, making their future more sustainable.

  3. Good news for McLaren then, they won’t be last in 2018, just second to last.

    1. I hope Sauber is getting some backing or backers. Under Dennis they didnt allow anybody to get honda as well. I more worried that a strong sauber might be quicker than McLaren.

    2. Don’t count on it. Neither team will get points, and it might just go down to who had the highest finishing race position or lower DNFs.

      On a more serious not though, I’m glad Sauber signed up for Honda. This gives Mclaren a lot of flexibility in their plans for next year. They can choose to activate their performance clause for a break with Honda and switch to Mercedes while making sure they aren’t the culprits in making Honda quit F1. Or they can choose do lose their star driver to another team and spend a few more years as backmarkers before the next regulation change.

  4. Good move and easily understandable for all parties involved. Honda need a second team in order to double the amount of kilometers and thus speed up the feedback and consequent development.
    For Sauber it’s a matter of trusting Honda to not remain this bad forever, but then again it’s said the year-old and not-being-developed Ferrari engines are not the cheapest either. So probably Honda agreed to a deal where the first year is extremely cheap and maybe even free, the second year is half the money and the third year is full price. Which in return is probably not much more than the year-old Ferrari engine. What Sauber saves in engine expenses can be put into development of the car itself.
    Finally, McLaren will reap the benefits as long as Honda has no issues manufacturing 4 engines at the start of 2018.

    1. How on earth is that a good move for Sauber?
      If there isn’t a Honda miracle that car will be devoid of sponsors for another season

    2. I have no real basis for saying this, but I doubt Sauber will be paying for this. Honda are desperate to be able to provide more teams and improve. I don’t think Sauber will be paying, I think they may even be receiving support for it.

      1. I agree with you. I guess Honda gives PU for free and might be more for R&D fund.

      2. Its hard to believe that Honda can get more miles when they can’t even run on two cars???? Don’t you think that Honda itself must resolve its liability issues before collecting miles from teams….the only benefit I see is that HONDA will now be printed on the side of four cars rather than one…

  5. Sato/Nakajima back in Sauber.

    1. You could put Hamilton in it and it would still be last

      1. Well you said that as if Hamilton gets 1s per lap by himself.
        Anyway you never know. Honda’s Fortune might turn around.
        As they say, “Expect the unexpected in F1”.

        1. Well you said that as if Hamilton gets 1s per lap by himself

          . No he cannot. If Hamilton was in the present McLaren, he would have been much further behind than Alonso is now.

    2. I’d love to see Kobayashi or Sato back in F1!

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        2nd May 2017, 17:16

        Kobayashi probably has stronger ties to Ferrari than to Honda, courtesy his WEC debut for AF Corse.

    3. Sato is too old for long project. Nakajima and Kobayashi are Toyota guys so it won’t happen.

      1. @eggry, especially in the case of Nakajima – since 2003, there has only been one year in his career where he has not driven for a team either supported by Toyota or for a Toyota works team, and that was back in 2006 (when he raced for Manor Motorsport in the European Formula 3 series – and even then one of his team mates was also supported by Toyota as well).

        If we do see a Japanese driver joining, it is more likely to be a young driver like Matsushita.

      2. Matsushita will get the ride

  6. Maybe McLaren should just rename their PU.
    RBR did this last year and it worked ;)

    1. And Honda will allow, you think?

    2. Michael Brown (@)
      30th April 2017, 8:58

      @f1-liners McLaren-Nintendo

      1. @mbr-9 i hope its not nintendo switch

      2. So what what is the shortened version of that like Mc-Honda?
        Nin-claren? Mc-tendo?

        Here’s mine.
        Mclaren-Canon. Mc-Canon.
        Sauber-Sony. Sau-ny.

    3. Sauber-Segata Sanshiro

  7. A second team would have been beneficial for the Honda development programme since back in 2015, now it seems to be a bit late. And as for the relative security of Sauber, I wouldn’t be sure that they won’t have to look for an engine supplier any time soon, as Honda pulled out just after the disastrous 2007-08 season not to damage the company image any more (even though not only the engine wore their name that time), and the situation isn’t any brighter now. It’s not hard to predict, that Alonso won’t be at McLaren in 2018, Button won’t want to suffer another year at the low end of the grid, and honestly I can’t see who wants. Maybe the time for Oliver Turvey will come if noone else would simply be interested?

    1. Maybe Alonso and Palmer can swap seats.

  8. Obviously good news for Mclaren and Honda…if their partnership remains next year. Considering Mercedes deal rumor(they denied it though!), it might be Honda’s Plan B. but I believe Sauber is too weak to be Honda works team so Mclaren would remain or Honda’s long long journey begins.

  9. This has been on the cards since the baffling announcement that they were using year old Ferrari engines this year, Autosport have speculated that that deal was because Ferrari wanted to protect their secrets. The sport really needs Honda to sort themselves out, now the fate of two teams is with them.

    1. See, that. I love Ferrari as like a childhood fantasy, and I support one of their drivers, but where Mercedes are helping out other teams to slightly equal the playing field, Ferrari are always the most independent and distrusting. Sport would be better if Ferrari moved into the modern world a bit more.

    2. Where did you discover that speculation on Autosport?
      I can’t grasp why they, or you, would specluate on such a thing. It should be clear that they chose last years spec, because it was cheaper whilst they were almost strugling financially (as the 2017 Ferrai engine doesnt fit their current chassis as well, very much cheaper indeed).

  10. Sauber have acted as a Ferrari B-team every now and then, but I suppose with Haas doing a better job now, Ferrari don’t need Sauber. Maybe as part of the deal, McLaren will now have somewhere to put their young drivers before throwing them in at the deep end.

    Sadly, I fear that Sauber won’t even make it within 107% in qualifying next year.

    1. No real problem for Sauber though, with a ten team field. Sauber are just happy to be there (for now) and so will their drivers, who will pay for the pleasure. Expecting them to have Sean Gelael next season. (or Lance Stroll)

    2. @strontium, for the moment, it looks like Ferrari are still keeping their options open with both teams – whilst Leclerc is currently working for Haas as their development driver, we have also seen Ferrari use Sauber to test out Giovinazzi during test sessions. Equally, I believe that Ferrari does still have an agreement with Sauber to use their windtunnel, so they are still maintaining at least some technical ties with the team.

  11. Excellent news for Sauber – this should allow them to cement their position in the constructor’s championship.

  12. Are Honda going to be able to make enough engines? :-)

    Seriously though – what would you do if you’re McLaren – as Ron Dennis said – you can’t win in the modern era unless you have a works engine – such is the integration complexity and opportunity to extract more performance. Williams and FI have had Mercs for a few years and haven’t exactly threatened.

    If McLaren move to Merc PUs, they’ll be in a Red Bull situation – only able to win by chassis and aero margin, would Mercedes ever supply engines that would challenge their own team.

    I think McLaren have no choice but to stick with Honda and hope that the external help they’re receiving comes good. Then again it could be another Toyota story!

    1. Mercedes cycle in f1 has been lengthy. Someday mercedes might want to leave. 2020/21 there will be new engines by then there might be no reminence of mercedes on the grid.

  13. Oh, great. Honda’ll have to manufacture the Honda F1 PU on their roadcar engine assembly line – that’s the volume of engines they’ll need in 2018.

  14. Ask yourself this, as Sauber should have when making this decision…..
    Will the 2018 Honda engine be as good as the 2017 Ferrari engine?

    Enough said.

    1. It will probably be better than the Ferrari engine if you take in to account they dont have unlimited money.

    2. I think the Honda 2018 engine won’t be as good as the Ferrari 2014 engine, but then again performance is not what Sauber is after.

  15. Ha ha ha!

    The slower get slower!

  16. At least Sauber and McLaren can race each other then. The other teams will refer to them as “traffic”.

  17. First step for Honda to buy McLaren? Making Sauber a junior team? It’s obviously financial decisions that are behind this risktaking, otherwise McLaren would have gone in another direction.

  18. Two or three years too late, but worth a try.
    Renault is the only F1 engine manufacturer Sauber hasn’t used yet. They’ve nearly got the full set!

    1. @bullfrog Then Williams beat them to the ‘nearly full set’ in 2014 as they’ve had renault, honduh, merc, cosworth, ford/cosworth, mecachrome, bmw, judd, toyota and supertec.

  19. This news almost certainly heralds one driver change at Sauber for next season as Wehrlein is a Mercedes protegé and only got the Sauber seat to keep him in F1 for this season and that next season, we’ll probable see him at Williams with Stroll. Also, it’s not too outlandish to expect a Japanese test/reserve driver (Matsushita as @anon & @Hollidog point out?). With so many “old dogs” either on their way out or at the end of their contracts, silly season is going to be fun this year!

    1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
      2nd May 2017, 17:20

      The reason Massa was brought back was because Martini needs a driver over the age of 25 for promotional purposes. Wehrlein still has a few years to go, although Stroll might be given the boot if Toto offers more for a seat (WEH’s obvious talent notwithstanding).

  20. McLaren’s clever plan to gain equal footing with at least one team on the grid…

    1. +1. Next they should make formula 1 a 2 tier championship. Tier 1 is Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault powered cars. Tier 2 is Honda powered cars. Hopefully, Mclaren should at least be tier 2 champions.

  21. “…equal footing…”
    That was tooooo funny.

  22. David (@ringridder)
    1st May 2017, 7:12

    So basically they looked at McLaren and went: “Yes!! Look at that! That’s definitely the way to go!” Poor Sauber.

  23. Money Talks! People Mumble.

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