Currently, McLaren is Honda’s works team, while Ferrari-powered Sauber is set to become the Japanese marque’s first customer in 2018.
But now, it seems possible Sauber could actually be the only Honda-powered team next year, particularly with Williams denying it could take over from McLaren in the event of a divorce.
“They (McLaren and Sauber) are two separate projects. We are two customers,” Sauber boss Kaltenborn told the Swiss news agency Schweizerische Depeschenagentur.
“There will be no synergies.”
However, earlier it appeared likely that – because Sauber does not produce its own gearbox – the Hinwil based team would use McLaren’s transmission next year.
“I cannot say anything at this time,” Kaltenborn now insists.
But admitting that Sauber’s new owners are “not happy” with Sauber’s current performance, some are saying that moving from a year-old Ferrari engine to Honda may not be a forwards step for the team.
“It is not working at the moment at McLaren,” said Kaltenborn, “and of course that is not good.
“But I am not able to draw any conclusions about how it will be next year. This is all speculation and I have no reason to doubt,” she added.
What Kaltenborn is happy about is F1’s new owners, having complained bitterly in the past about the current revenue distribution model within the sport.
“In the past, the owners did not take the trouble to come to us,” she said. “But Sean Bratches has made himself very available to us.
“They maintain very open contact, and in things like marketing they are much more open,” Kaltenborn said.