New Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur has explained the reasons behind the team's decision to scrap its partnership with Honda before it had even begun.

The former Renault F1 team principal joined Sauber ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix in place of long-time manager Monisha Kaltenborn, who had orchestrated a deal in May for Honda to come on board as an engine supplier and technical collaborator for 2018.

However, Kaltenborn's exit has prompted a change of heart for Sauber's owners Longbow Finance, preferring instead to re-negotiate an ongoing deal with Ferrari that will see it join Haas in using 2018 specification power units next season.

Though many have cited Honda's ongoing problems with its power unit and its relationship with McLaren as Sauber's predominant reason to shift away from the Japanese firm, Vasseur insists there were practical factors in deciding to move away from Honda, hinting McLaren may have also been a factor.

"Sauber and Honda signed a memorandum of understanding a couple of weeks ago but things move forward quite fast in our world and I think that the situation was a bit unclear also regarding the collaboration between McLaren and Honda and on our side the engine supplier had to find a solution for the gearbox.

"We had a deal with McLaren and the situation was a bit more complicated. On the other end, the collaboration with Ferrari is based on a long-term relationship and we had the opportunity to discuss with Ferrari to get the new-spec engine and I think it was a good choice and we found a mutual agreement with Honda to stop the collaboration.

The deal is expected to represent a good opportunity for Ferrari to home one or potentially two of its highly-rated junior drivers Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc. The latter, currently dominating the Formula 2 standings, is tipped to secure one of the Sauber seats, though it remains unclear whether Marcus Ericsson who has close ties to the owners will be retained for a fourth straight season.

 

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