During the next few days, Sauber will hold talks with Scuderia Ferrari regarding the possibility of Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc driving for the Hinwil-based outfit in the 2018 Formula One season. Sauber’s team principal, Frederic Vasseur, recently told Auto Motor und Sport that talking about its 2018 driver lineup would not have been approprate when negotiating an engine deal with the Maranello team, but at the same time did confirme that talks will begin soon:
“We will discuss this with Ferrari in the coming days. For us, the engine choice had priority and we did not want to mix that with the driver question. It would have taken too much time. There is now the opportunity to do that in peace.” – Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur explained, as reported on Monday by Italian national sports newspaper based in Rome Corriere dello Sport.
As Marcus Ericsson has strong connections to Sauber’s financial backers, Longbow Finance, it appeared very likely that it would be Pascal Wehrlein who would be replaced in the event of a Scuderia Ferrari junior driver joining the squad for the next season. However, Frederic Vasseur has now ruled this notion out and said that the team needs drivers who are quick as opposed to drivers who have the right connections: “It would be a mistake to build a team around a driver just because he has a connection to the owner.” – Frederic Vasseur added
“Rebuilding Sauber will require patience, while drivers normally want results in the next race. So if he wants to sit in a podium car next year, he will have a problem with Sauber. We will talk with the owners about what is best for Marcus and the team. Pascal knows our situation, and I know his skills because we worked together in the DTM. If you want to rebuild a team, you need not only fast drivers, but those who are willing to work with the team and push it in the right direction.” – Sauber’s team principal concluded.
But Ferrari is definitely working on promoting both of its junior drivers, Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi, into Formula 1 with Sauber next year, effectively creating a Maranello B-team. Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne spoke earlier this year about turning Sauber into a Ferrari B-team, after renewing its engine supply deal with the Swiss squad and team principal Maurizio Arrivabene flew to Sauber’s Hinwil headquarters a few weeks ago in order to discuss the plans – and the possibility of a Leclerc/Giovinazzi line-up for 2018.