Sauber close to Honda deal; McLaren close to being not cool with it

While McLaren may be excited about a new reliability upgrade coming from Honda for the Russian Grand Prix this weekend, they may be less than elated with the news that Sauber is close to completing a deal for Honda power units in 2018.

According to reports, Sauber will jettison a long-standing partnership with Ferrari in favor of a Honda power unit. Honda’s focus on McLaren for the first few seasons of their return to F1 was certainly understandable but they’ve always said they would be interested in supplying more than one team in Formula 1.

When Red Bull approached them about an engine supply, it was then CEO, Ron Dennis, who squashed the deal insisting that a second supply would dilute the partnership McLaren had with Honda. Suggestions at the time were made that if it were someone like Sauber, Ron may not have had as big of an issue but this was Red Bull Racing.

A year or so onward and with new owners, Sauber is close to inking the deal according to Autosport. However, the same concerns remain but this time from the mouth of race director Eric Boullier.

“I think more teams is better and more engine running is better,” Boullier said.

“But there is a price to pay for that, which is deviating more resources into building more engines.

“Whatever happens, we are partners, so at some stage there will be a second team supply question, and I think we’ll have to support this.

“But we want to make sure it’s not detrimental to our partnership.”

Understandable concerns but in the end, and at this point, I think Honda would benefit as well as McLaren with more engines running more mileage.

Hat tip: Autosport

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I wonder if this is just step 1 of Mclaren and Honda separating. I know there’s a lot of reassuring from Mclaren that their partnership is still going strong, but I’m not sure they would turn down an opportunity for Merc engines if that opportunity arose.

Bruno Tattaglia

Where will Mc Laren raise the money Honda is paying? On top of that loss….they will have to buy a decent engine and start roaming like Red Bull. Mc Laren is do or die with Honda.

Negative Camber

I think Bruno brings ups some good points here. Honda and McLaren have a deep relationship on this engine supply deal. Also, McLaren would have to get another supplier and quickly and I would be very surprised if another manufacturer would enter this late on this formula. Just my opinion.

Marti J Powell BSc

Ron`s DREAM is, the British Ferrari
Road car & F1 team, he now HAS the road car coming along
The long term aim will be to build their OWN engine/PU!!

Marti J Powell BSc

He SHOULD have bought Cosworth
and branded it mp4 …. worth/cos …

Negative Camber

I said back in 2008 that Ron should have bought the BMW racing engine program from Dr. mario T and made his own engines. :) Now, that was NA lumps, this hybrid would have been a curve ball for him had he bought it or Cosworth. Big investment in tech.


Ron’s gone Marti! The other owners staged a coup and dethroned the OCD king.
I guess we’ll have to wait to see what Mansour Ojjeh and the Bahrain royal family want McLaren to be.

Marti J Powell BSc

jakobusvdl Ron may NOT B the Team manager, CEO at McLaren
But he IS still a share holder


Unfortunately he only owns 25% of the shares and the other two shareholding groups, controlling 75% of the shares, have decided that they don’t want Ron’s input, so I suspect he has 0% influence on what any part of McLaren do at the moment.

Salvu Borg

agree, again my opinion as already expressed on this forum, could well be that McLaren the team is/might be crumbling and might not survive.

Marti J Powell BSc

Mclaren WANT to be works/factory/number 1 team
If/when Sauber become a customer. Mclaren WON`T have THAT status
I suggest a Cosworth PU – it WON`T come with £100million like the Honda – but won`t have to PAY for it as a customer!!!


Surely the advantages outweigh the disadvantages here? The problem Honda seem to be facing doesn’t seem to be resource shortage, but more of technical know-how that they seem to be missing on. I fail to see how they are going to improve on that when they are basically getting 1/3rd of the data that other Engine manufacturers are currently gaining from each session.

Adding Sauber will only help Honda improve IMO.

Marti J Powell BSc

Honda have a bucket-load of PU`s blown out from Mclaren
WHY have Honda NOT been able to data-gather from THEM
MORE blown out PU`s!!

Skid Solo

Exit games and best-fit strategys. Mclaren will revert back to the Merc PU’s next year, until they come up with a new workable and succesful plan B. Sauber get the Honda PU next year and help deflect some of the on – going Honda development issues, as they are not a front running team. With Sauber, Honda can develop the engine, without the intense public scrutiny associated with Mclaren. Mclaren revert back to the Merc PU and should therefore run in the top six at least, at every race. This may also help them to hold onto Alonso. This should… Read more »


An interesting theory, but it would be a very bold call for both McLaren and Mercedes. Amongst other things, McLaren would have to find about a $130millon budget difference between getting p.u’s and money from Honda, to paying for Mercedes p.u’s. I guess they could gamble that prize money would make up the difference. But, Mercedes jettisoned McLaren when their car became competitive, and neither Mercedes, nor Ferrari, were prepared to sell their p.u’s to a team which was likely to be competitive with their teams (RBR) What do you think has changed that would make Mercedes want to supply… Read more »

Skid Solo

I beleive that Mercedes will have no issues in supplying Mclaren with customer PU’s. There’s still a lot of marketing mileage to be gained by having another top team running near the front, powered by Mercedes PU’s. It could also help Merc by having another strong team in the mix, taking away potential points from Ferrari and Red Bull.


Fair enough, Skid. Lots has changed for McLaren and Mercedes since the split. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how things play out.

Salvu Borg

‘This may also help McLaren to hold-on to Alonso” will repeat here, could be Alonso already outed McLaren, that’s my personal opinion based on what I consider the Zak Brawn Indy 500 BS stunt. Although it was not as bad as the RBR/Renault fracas, some if not all the things directed at Honda by members of the McLaren team I don’t believe that Honda will ever forget or forgive. I know that the present McLaren owners are very rich people, but there is a limit to how much rich people are willing to dip their hands in their pockets, this… Read more »

Skid Solo

I think the whole Indy 500 thing is just to keep Alonso’s pre – occupied and to temporarily stop him moaning, while Honda try and get some extra horses and reliability out of the F1 PU.


Hold the press!!!!!!!
Things might be looking up for McHonda, the very same p.u that wasn’t able to run on Sunday ran fourth fastest in the post race testing!
That’s very encouraging, running at the pace of Force India, Haas, Williams and not far off STR, plus 81 laps without a failure.
Fingers crossed this is some sort of turning point, and the revised P.U in Spain is the big step forward that gets McHonda to at least the front of the midfield, maybe even podiums………….


This is good news all around. Sauber should benefit in the longer run. And Honda will have more feedback, which WILL help McLaren.

charlie white

I am reminded of the Peugoet F1 engine program and how it went from one team(starting with McLaren ironically) to another from season to season(Jordan, Prost GP) and it never made it to the podium. For Sauber, it might be cheaper than a 1-year old Ferrari

Salvu Borg

Charlie, I remember that Peugeot engine very well, the A4 V10

Skid Solo

And Sauber will probably get some Honda $ contribution.

Dave Mack

Headline should read “Sauber torpedoes any chance of success in 2018.”

Salvu Borg

But what if Honda overcomes and fixes their problems in a years time?.



Skid Solo

Sauber have nothing to lose. They’ve been backmarkers for a few years now. It’s unlikely they will move away from this position any time soon.

Salvu Borg

The Honda McLaren partnership contract arrangement had at least one clause that we came to know about that runs contrary to the FIA/FI obligations. When Ron Dennis with Honda hiding behind him activated his right of veto with Honda to block engine supply to RBR he had both legal legs to stand on as regards his Honda contract, BUT he had no legal legs to stand on as regards his and Honda’s obligations re the FIA/F1 obligations. Many were fooled by the FIA pushing to the table the threat of the cheap independent engine which was actually fallen-on by the… Read more »

Zachary Noepe

If these idiots hadnt blocked Honda from supplying others last year they’d be competing with Red Bull now instead of watching Sauber disappear up the road ahead of them. It’s a mistake to overanalyze their motives, they just do everything wrong and there’s no good reason why.