Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur says he’ll have the final say on the squad’s 2018 Formula 1 driver line-up but its new Alfa Romeo partnership will play a key role in the decision.

Sauber announced a new technical and title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo from 2018 – sister brand to Ferrari under the FCA Group – with reports linking the Swiss team to a ‘Ferrari B team’ agreement.

Ferrari Driver Academy star and reigning Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc looks odds-on favourite to join Sauber for his F1 debut next season, ousting Mercedes-backed Pascal Wehrlein, but question marks still surround the second race seat with Marcus Ericsson under threat from Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi.

While Vasseur is focusing on the strongest possible driver line-up for the rebranded Alfa Romeo Sauber squad in 2018 he says a decision will be made “very soon”.

“I get something like two hundred questions about that fact every day, but I have to choose and I will make a decision very soon,” Vasseur said to “We will sit down and discuss [with Ferrari].

“Everybody is full of expectations for 2018 - I think we have made some strong choices.”

Assessing the new-look team’s goals for 2018 Vasseur has emphasised Sauber needs to remain realistic for next season after starting “a brand new project”.

“Even if we move a good step forward next season we will not fight for wins,” he said. “It took Red Bull Racing seven years before winning the championship – or five before winning a race – and the same goes pretty much also for Mercedes – and they even took over a team that were world champions.

“You can’t be faster than this – good things need time. Having said that, we need drivers that will fit to our plans. The worst-case scenario for us would be having someone who dreams about being world champion next year.”

Sauber finished bottom of the F1 World Constructors' championship standings for the first time in its history in 2017 running year-old Ferrari power units.


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