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Yusuke Hasegawa

Hasegawa: Failure of Sauber deal very disappointing

Yusuke Hasegawa

Deposed McLaren supremo Ron Dennis thought he was being clever by signing a three year exclusivity deal with Honda, preventing the Japanese manufacturer from supplying a second team during this period.

But in retrospect it was not a very smart move because Honda could have used the extra data produced by a second team, not only to develop their woeful Formula 1 power units but also get to the bottom of the reliability that afflicts their programme.

Thus when the Sauber deal was announced it was a step in the right direction, but a few months after the engine supply contract was announced the Swiss team’s new management pulled the plug.

Now with Toro Rosso apparently committed to another year of Renault power, Honda and McLaren look set to be tackling 2018 solo and this is clearly a blow to the Japanese manufacturer’s aspirations.

Speaking to Racer Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa said of the failed Sauber deal, “Of course it is very disappointing. Although it is a customer team program so it doesn’t hurt our program very much, but we still expected to get the opportunity to get our engine running more.”

“We would have got more data and been able to make comparisons, so it is very disappointing. More than that, on the practical side, we had to stop the preparation. So it is very bad.”

Honda motorsport manager Masashi Yamamoto handled the final negotiations with the Swiss team which in the end went sour as Sauber decided to remain with Ferrari power.

Hasegawa expalained, “I wasn’t in the meetings [with Sauber], that was Yamamoto-san. Actually Jorg Zander and I were in very good communication all the time, so we both didn’t believe that we would have to stop this collaboration until the final moment.”

Meanwhile Sauber’s newly appointed team principal Frederic Vasseur said of the cancelled deal, “The start of the discussion with Honda was eight months ago and the situation changed drastically on both sides.”

“We reached a point that at one stage it was better for everybody to stop the discussions and we did it in a very fair way with Honda and I would like to thank them for the discussion we had. It was a good thing for me.

“We are in a quite tough situation in terms of pace and we need to have reference. On the Honda side, we don’t know exactly what will happen with the McLaren deal. It’s also a tricky situation for us,” added Vasseur.

Big Question: Will Sauber regret not having gone through with the Honda deal?