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Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa has confirmed talks are ongoing with another F1 team to supply engines for the 2018 season, with Sauber expected to be confirmed soon as its new customer outfit.

Honda returned to F1 as engine supplier and partner to the McLaren in 2015 but despite indicating it would be prepared to expand its supply portfolio it has been blocked from doing so as part of an exclusive agreement with the Woking based team.

However, with Honda struggling for performance and reliability from its V6 Hybrid - in part because of the limited data it can acquire from just supplying a single team -, McLaren has reportedly relented to the manufacturer's wish to invite a second team into the fold for the greater good of its own fortunes.

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As such, it is understood Sauber is close to announcing a deal having opted to take on a year-old supply of Ferrari engines this season motivated by the prospect of a more favourable deal with the Japanese firm in 2018.

"From the start of this F1 activity we committed to support this Formula 1 society, so from that point of view it is our duty that we have to support multiple teams," Hasegawa said.

"Also we are thinking it will give us some benefit to the team, because we have more data and more chance to make [the] car running. So we don't deny to have a second or third team. We are talking with various teams but at this moment unfortunately we have nothing to say here."

Sauber confirmed to Crash.net earlier this month that it has already signed a deal for its engines for 2018, but declined to comment on who it would be.

Though it has always claimed to have chosen year-old Ferrari power units to assist in chassis design, it is widely believed to be part of a plan to get out of its Ferrari contract early and switch to another supplier, with Honda considered to be a good value alternative. It isn't known whether the deal could go as far as identifying Sauber a something of an official Honda 'B team'.

It also comes amidst rumours Mercedes has been enlisted to assist Honda in bringing its power unit up to speed for the benefit of the sport. The help is believed to be similar to that of the widely assumed assistance Ferrari received from the German firm after 2014 to improve its power unit.

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