The chances of Honda supplying Sauber with engines for the 2018 F1 season is hanging in a '50/50' balance, according to sources.

The sudden exit of Monisha Kaltenborn - architect of the deal announced in May - from her position as Sauber team principal and have subsequently cast doubt on whether it will honour the contract with Honda.

Though Sauber's owners Longbow Finance have filled the position with respected former Renault F1 boss Frederic Vasseur, sources close to Honda suggest there is no firm decision on whether the 2018 deal will now go ahead, describing the chances as '50/50'.

With Vasseur charged with sorting an engine supply as his first priority, a final decision will need to be made in the coming weeks to allow teams to begin planning their 2018 machines.

Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa, however, remains coy on the details when asked on the record.

"We couldn't discuss the contract situation before a mutual agreement, so we don't tell anything about it here."

Ironically, if Sauber is left with no engine deal - as per regulations introduced in 2016 - a manufacturer will be 'obligated to supply', most likely Honda as it currently only supplies McLaren and has now indicated it now has capacity to increase that.

Vasseur's appointment could be seen as a good omen for a Honda rescue given his ART Grand Prix team runs two of Honda's own junior development drivers Nobuharu Matsushita (F2) and Nirei Fukuzumi (GP3). It is understood Honda is keen to get one the drivers into F1 in the next two years.

Furthermore, at least ten Sauber engineers visited Honda's UK HQ in Milton Keynes ahead of the British Grand Prix, with the Japanese firm indicating its position remains unchanged and that it remains committed to supplying the Swiss outfit.


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