McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says it would be 'natural' for McLaren and Sauber to forge closer relationships in 2018 once they begin sharing a customer power unit supply from Honda.

Sauber announced during last month's Russian Grand Prix that it will drop its supply of Ferrari power units in favour of a Honda customer deal in F1 2018, making it the first team other than McLaren to use its V6 Hybrid power units since the Japanese firm return to F1 in 2015.

The agreement comes despite initial reluctance from McLaren's erstwhile management structure to allow a rival team to share its 'exclusive' engines, but with Honda struggling to bring its power unit up to speed relative to its rivals Brown feels the move is wholly beneficial to McLaren.

"I think more data the better, as you get more data you learn more so I think it is a good thing Sauber will be running with Honda," he said. "Honda will benefit from that, therefore we will benefit from that

Asked whether there was any opposition in the team's acceptance of a fellow Honda-powered team, Brown replied 'everyone at McLaren is happy about the arrangement. There is no division of opinion'.

Brown went on to suggest McLaren is open to a symbiotic partnership with Sauber, whether this extends to a technical partnership or become a proving ground for McLaren and Honda's driver development programmes, which currently includes highly-rated British junior Lando Norris and Formula 2 race winner Nobuharu Matsushita.

"We have not had any conversations, but it's natural when you have two teams that share a common power that ultimately those two teams start working more closely together in both teams' mutual benefit.

"That can take place in many shapes and forms from technical, driver to sponsor. We've not had those conversations but they will be a partner in the power unit and therefore someone that we want to build a closer relationship with."

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn echoed Brown's sentiments, suggesting she is willing to come to an agreement on drivers if it is in the best interests of the privateer team.

"At the end of the day it's the team's decision, and also the team's responsibility to have good drivers. And like we've done in the past, even with our current engine supplier, Ferrari, that we've discussed these kind of issues with the key partner.

"We have also taken drivers from our engine supplier because it was the right thing to do there. It's something that we're open to and we'll see how it pans out.

"In terms of sponsorship I think it's far too early to look at these things. We've just announced the deal. So we'll see how that develops as well."



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