Nasr and Ericsson to stay at Sauber for 2016

2016 F1 season

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Sauber has announced it will keep the same driver line-up for 2016.

Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, who joined the Swiss team at the beginning of this year, will remain with them for at least another year.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said the early announcement of the decision “shows that the drivers and the team are sure they are heading in the right direction”.

“We have full confidence in the talents and skills of Marcus and Felipe,” she said. “Both have shown solid performances, gained experience and learnt quickly. We enjoy having them in the team and they give it a positive boost.”

“Despite their young ages, they work very professionally – on as well as off the track. Marcus and Felipe are already involved in a very dedicated way with the development of next year’s Sauber C35.”

Nasr, who joined the team from Williams where he had been a test driver, said the announcement is “an important step in my career”.

Sauber’s choice of drivers for this season became a contentious point when Giedo van der Garde successfully sued the team for breaking his contract with them. The former Caterham driver eventually reached a settlement with the team.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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61 comments on “Nasr and Ericsson to stay at Sauber for 2016”

  1. I wonder how many more drivers they’ll announce by Melbourne 2016.

    1. diarmuid talbot (@)
      23rd July 2015, 12:39


  2. “this article will be updated” When they decide to hire another 4 or 5 drivers for the race seat by the time 2016 rolls around

  3. Why do they have to keep Ericsson? Money over talent nowadays! Ericsson is one of the worst drivers on the grid in my opinion.

    1. Well its ok to think Ericsson is one of the worst drivers but if you are gonna talk money its not Ericsson that paint the car blue..

      1. @rethla Yep and whose colors were those Santander stickers on the Ferraris? Alonso, the ultimate pay driver ;)
        Perez, Gutierrez are pay-drivers also by this criteria, despite the fact that they had to perform on every level or be dropped immediately
        All the RBR drivers? They’re pay drivers too
        Nasr got the Banco the Brasil sponsorship by virtue of his talent and delivering results
        Your implication that he’s more of a pay driver than Ericsson is 100% wrong

        Ericsson’s sponsors are super-rich but discreet, they don’t want their names seen. Which makes them probably related to him in some way. They don’t want to be embarrassed by it being known they’re the ones who are pay-rolling a career of a useless(on this level) driver

        Actually, your comment makes no sense in other way. Let’s assume Nasr is a pay driver. If Nasr brings the most money AND is delivering the vast majority of the results, destroying Ericsson in the process, why on earth would Sauber want to keep Ericsson? Something doesn’t add up here

        1. Yes it doesnt make sense that Ericsson is “worthless” and still brings less money to the table than most (if not all) the drivers, that is my point.

          As always theres something to be said about having a supreme management like Ericsson but there is no super rich Swedish mafia that sponsors him. If you want paydrivers dont come to Sweden.

          1. @rethla I don’t know who are Ericsson’s sponsors or even if they’re Swedish(we always assume that the driver’s sponsors are from the same country, but it is not always so) but what is clear is that they’re very rich. There were unconfirmed reports of 15million $/per year. I’m not saying that’s necessarily so, but to claim he’s bringing less money to the table than other drivers is illogical. Why would Sauber keep him otherwise? He doesn’t bring enough results for that, so it must be money

            One last thing, as a note to his sponsors, if they’re indeed Swedish. There’s much better talent mired in F3 for god knows how many years because he has no money to progress. So they might want to re-direct money his way to help him maybe? You must know who I’m talking about

    2. Malaysia was indeed an outstanding performance!

    3. Well, Nasr leads Ericsson in quali but it’s 6-3, not 9-0. Nasr has scored points 3 times, Ericsson twice. Ericsson was surely on course for a third points finish in Silverstone had the team not got the weather wrong. He was informed of “no more rain”, pitted for new slicks, and rainfall occurred. He is no world champion but he brings money and has begun to perform far more reliably than he did in 2014 (where he outpaced Kobayashi during the second half of the season).

      1. @chrischrill

        Well, Nasr leads Ericsson in quali but it’s 6-3, not 9-0. Nasr has scored points 3 times, Ericsson twice. Ericsson was surely on course for a third points finish in Silverstone had the team not got the weather wrong.

        Ericsson is being beaten quite clearly by a rookie. Nasr is very much an unknown quantity himself.

      2. @chrischrill Talk about twisting the stats. Nasr is destroying Ericsson which is clear to see. In qualifying they are 0.4 sec apart on average which is huge.

        You mention the problem Ericsson had at Silverstone, yet conveniently forget, for example the overheating brakes problems Nasr had in Austria, or when he lost ERS for a third of the race in Bahrain etc.

        The only weekend when ME outpaced FN completely was in Canada

        And, also, ME outpaced KK in the second half of the 2014 season? for 2-3 races maybe when ME got the updated car while KK didn’t. up to that point KK was destroying ME sometimes it was over a second between them in qualifying. Lotterer came for a one-off and beat him too

    4. nobody coming up with a better offer, I guess @ultimateuzair

  4. Until Monisha finds one that pays better…

  5. What I read:

    We enjoy having them in the team and they give it a positive economic boost.

    I do think it is the right choise for Sauber though. They simply need the money to survive. I do not find Nasr and Ericsson particulary interesting, but if the cash they bring improves the cars’ competiveness then great. Hopefully Ferrari’s power unit upgrades will boost Saubers competiveness as well, once they get them.

    1. @me4me Yeah, you’re right. Nasr’s many points this year have indeed gave Sauber a hugely positive economic boost…

  6. Good for Nasr. I don’t hold a grudge towards Marcus but he’s just such a ‘meh’ driver, there’s just nothing about him, he seems so dull.

  7. That blows the Nasr back to Williams in place of Bottas to Ferrari then?

    1. @tonyyeb I’m not so sure it does. It could be that everything hasn’t yet been tied down with Bottas and Sauber are exploiting the uncertainty to get Nasr under a contract (i.e. offer him a certain seat with his other option being still uncertain) Nasr will know how hard it is to come back once you’re out of F1 so could have felt it was the option to take. Sauber may be more than willing to let Nasr go to Williams if they come knocking, but having him under contract means they would need to be compensated for such a move. Williams might be prepared to do that if the compensation is less than the money Nasr would bring with him. Let’s say for arguments sake the compensation is 50% – Sauber get half the sponsorship and still have a seat to sell, Williams end up with half the sponsorship and the driver they want.

      1. @jerseyf1 True that is all possible but don’t you think that if Williams have been approached (which is at the very least is the current case, if not already agreed to let Bottas go) that they would already be speaking to other drivers to potentially fill the role? Why would Nasr sign so quickly with the potential for a seat at a much better team with potential to earn rather than having to pay to drive?

    2. Hope so, they can do better. It’s time they attracted a real top driver – World Champions and recent race winners, I mean – and there’s a few disgruntled or available ones at the moment.
      Alonso? Ricciardo? Raikkonen (maybe that’s one comeback too many though)?
      But I like the idea of Alex Lynn as well. He’d join a long line of decent F1 newcomers at Williams: Bottas, Hulkenberg, Rosberg, Montoya, Button, Villeneuve.

      1. @bullfrog I agree to a certain extent, Nasr has been pretty good but this is Williams we are talking about. I’d bin Massa and try to get Ricciardo (although doubt he will leave Red Bull for a few years) and bring through Lynn.

  8. That puts Nasr out of the running for the willy seat.

    1. diarmuid talbot (@)
      23rd July 2015, 12:44

      nasr was hardly going to get it tho

  9. So Jenson to Williams then? I like the sound of that.

    1. That would be sweet!

    2. Do you remember buttongate? Not sure williams would be that keen on signing him after that fiasco. However time is a great healer, and Alonso went back to McLaren. Seems anything goes these days.

    3. Jenson over the Hulk? Don’t think so. Unless Jenson replaces Massa then I’m all in for that

  10. So Corriere dello Sport has already been wrong one crucial count since it tipped Nasr to replace the allegedly Ferrari-bound Bottas.

    If Corriere dello Sport is right about Bottas, and once nonsensical fantasies about Button have been disregarded, it puts another thoroughly deserving Brit in pole position for the seat: reigning GP3 champion and Williams development driver Alex Lynn.

    1. or the Bottas story has not come to fruition @countrygent.

    2. @countrygent I’m not sure if Lynn is “thoroughly deservering” yet. He’s talented but maybe he could do with one year extra in GP2. He has an OK debut season but it could be better.

      1. diarmuid talbot (@)
        23rd July 2015, 12:45

        id stick him in a force india ahead of perez

      2. @mattds I’d agree, plus it would give more time for FP1s, which will be critical as testing declines. Same for Marciello in the Sauber, and Gasly at Toro Rosso.

        @countrygent Surely only Vandoorne and Rossi are really deserving to move up? I’d even say Rowland is more ready (if less likely) and Sirotkin is really showing his potential now, while Haryanto is as ready as he’ll ever be.

        That’s not to say Lynn won’t be ready after a top 3 finish in GP2 next year (Marciello and Gasly also), but I see Williams keeping their Brazilian sponsorship going with Nasr for Massa, Hulk alongside in the ‘Bottas’ role, and Wehrlein replacing him at Force India.

      3. @mattds @fastiesty Drivers are more than just a spreadsheet of results: their F1 prospects are attitudinal and circumstantial as much as podiums and victories.

        This is not true with anyone more than Alex. For me he has the ingredients of a star: he took a rookie season championship in GP3 under immense pressure from the Red Bull programme and against a highly creditable grid of rivals. He then took the bold and pragmatic decision to walk away from a proven conveyor belt for F1 drivers and into a more minor role that has latterly put him in a great position for an F1 drive. He is young, he is talented and he is confident in his own ability. Also, unlike Rossi, he has not had the benefit of years of experience to place an asterisk beside his results. Like Vandoorne and Ocon, he has a habit of making a fast impression when racing in a new series: that is my personal recipe for stardom.

        I think arguing that he requires another season in GP2 becomes less persuasive when it is remembered that Verstappen has NO high power single seater experience and has nonetheless been impressive. Ericsson is the inverted case. His F1 prospects would be just as good with another season of GP2, but why wait when he has a great opportunity this year? It also helps that he brings a budget.

        Rowland is on a similar level, definitely. By contrast his lack of budget has already seen him discuss his future in terms of DTM or LMP1 rather than F1. With four excellent drivers in at Red Bull for Gasly, and having spectacularly failed to convert the momentum of his F3 title for Marciello, I think these guys might be thinking in similar terms.

        p.s. The FIA doesn’t deem Wehrlein worthy of F1, so if the Hulk exits Force India, Ocon would be his replacement.

        1. @countrygent I don’t really know why you mention the thing about drivers being more than a spreadsheet of results – surely nobody is implying that they’re not?

          Sure, Lynn did superbly in his first season of GP3, although I do feel that Stoneman was more impressive and Lynn wasn’t really exciting (mind you I watched most GP3 races last year) – often too cautiously and/or unable to overtake. I know the GP3 chassis can be a pain when needing to overtake but others have shown to be great with it.
          The main point why I think he could need some more experience is that, while his talent shines through on occasion in his debut GP2 season, it has been very hit or miss for now. There have been a few good races but there have been mediocre and even bad ones as well. I’m not sure he has the Pirelli’s mastered yet, and that’s something that is vital to good performances in F1.

          The comparison with Verstappen is somewhat flawed. Verstappen could have done with some extra experience as well, but he was in a unique position in that everybody saw how he came into F3 and did stunningly well – a debut in F3 Euro is higher than national F3 or even F4 series most debut in, but despite quite a bit of technical issues he still won most races and was the most impressive/best driver after he settled down. So a few parties fought for him and so he could set the terms, and he could get an F1 drive out of it. But all of this doesn’t mean that:
          a) he couldn’t have done with a bit more experience
          b) Verstappen’s example should suddenly be the reference. It’s still an exception to the rule rather than a rule itself.

          The part I do definitely agree with is that he is a rookie in GP2, which is a disadvantage, and I would pick him over guys like Rossi or Haryanto – I don’t like the practice of staying in GP2 for years and years and finally doing well and then thinking you have the right to be in F1. That’s not how I think it should work.

          All of this being said, I would be very happy for him to be in F1. But when talking about drivers that “thoroughly deserve” it, then I have a few other names in my head. Vandoorne being the most obvious one, I’d still like to see Frijns there (will never happen, I realise). And Rowland is asserting himself quite nicely as well.

          1. @mattds Some interesting ideas – I can’t say I fully agree.

            It frustrated me massively that Alex Lynn’s GP3 success was stymied by the commentator’s erroneous complaint that he was not aggressive enough in wheel-to-wheel combat. Prior to the mechanical improvements for 2015, overtaking in GP3 was near enough impossible. As a result Stoneman was no more impressive than Lynn in the art of overtaking. Certainly Lynn was thinking about the title; in F3 and GP2 he has shown himself as a highly capable racer.

            The comparison with Verstappen is no more flawed than that with Stoneman, Q.E.D. there are no perfect comparisons in motorsport. Verstappen is only exceptional in his lack of car racing experience. Bottas, Kvyat and Verstappen never drove in the premiere junior categories of GP2 and FR3.5, and yet have been mightily impressive. Lynn already has an experience advantage over these drivers, and since he has ties with an F1 team, I see no reason to delay his debut. Certainly Alex needs more F1 running more than he needs more junior experience.

            It is perhaps also too early to judge Lynn’s rookie GP2 campaign. I would argue he has been more impressive than Gasly, despite Gasly’s 2014 GP2 outings. Also Vandoorne gained momentum in that latter half of his 2014 campaign, and since Alex is a comparably intelligent driver, we should see some better results from Lynn. But then again, Vandoorne resists comparison of any form. So whilst Stoffel does not articulate your final point, Evans and Marciello certainly do.

        2. @countrygent I like how, as if to reassert your point, Lynn clinched GP2 pole 2 hundredths ahead of Vandoorne! That session would be proof if any was needed for those two being the standout candidates for F1 promotion.

          I agree that speed of improvement is the main criteria for assessing driver skill, Verstappen the best example. Marciello and Gasly will fight for the title next year, they are young and have time to mature with their F1 team support.

          The FIA should give Wehrlein an exemption, if this system was already in effect earlier he would no doubt have completed his F3 year when battling for the title with Marciello and hence had enough points for a super-licence.

          1. @fastiesty Yeah, thanks Alex! Lynn, Vandoorne and Ocon (fastest in GP3 practice too) all need F1 seats, otherwise there won’t truly be any justice in the world.

            I wouldn’t be so confident that Marciello and Gasly will be fighting for the title in GP2 next year. If Marciello cannot seize the 2016 Haas opportunity on its way by putting in some better results in the second half of the season, I fear his Ferrari Academy days are over. There are certainly loud grumblings of discontent regarding his plateaued form, and without Ferrari support, there is no GP2 for Lello. Gasly may still be there, but surely Red Bull must be reevaluating his value to them with four young and highly talented drivers on their books. For me, the 2016 GP2 contenders look likely to be Stanaway, Sirotkin and Yelloly: I would imagine each of those three get snapped up by the GP2 powerhouses of DAMS and ART.

            I cannot agree enough about Wehrlein, but from the FIA’s perspective, what value is a system that is undermined at the first challenge?

    3. Neil (@neilosjames)
      23rd July 2015, 13:08

      I very much like the sound of that…

  11. Evil Homer (@)
    23rd July 2015, 12:49

    1) I thought I had a valid contact with Sauber for next year so I guess best be off to see my lawyer tomorrow :)

    2) If Bottas does move on I would have thought someone like The Hulk a better choice than Button at Williams. Nothing against Jenson I think he is great, but why go a short term option, unless they need a filler and have someone else in mind in a year or two?

  12. I’m surprised in this decision as Ferrari are more than likely going to sign Bottas in place of Kimi which at least 1 seat free at Williams (if they really want to keep Massa, which I don’t think will do thrm any good) and Nasr was first in line to take that seat but not anymore I see.

    So with that being said, I wonder (if Bottas ends up signing for Ferrari) if Williams will consider the very promising talent of Alex Lynn or even a current driver in F1 who can fit the bill like Carlos Sainz Jr. (I say Carlos as Max is truly something special and I doubt they’ll favour Carlos over Max) or even both Alex and Carlos. For me, that’s a dream team!

    As for Ericsson: pay driver, no talent. Gets outclassed by rookie Nasr nearly every GP weekend and that shouldn’t be happening.

    And I’m also surprised that they haven’t considered Raffaele Marciello. Ferrari Academy Driver, great talent, future F1 star (potentially) and only halfway into the season and Sauber re-sign both drivers. Interesting indeed

    1. Evil Homer (@)
      23rd July 2015, 13:52

      You cant say Ericsson has “no talent”, all these guys can drive, but maybe shouldn’t be where he is and I was surprised he kept a drive in F1 when guys like JEV and even Paul Di Resta could not – we all know why of course!

      As for Nasr going to Williams maybe his has a ‘get out of jail free’ card if a better option comes up- it may sound stupid but some strange things happen in F1 :)

    2. @mattypf1 You say keeping Massa won’t do them any good. I say having an experienced driver helps enormously with technical feedback on the direction the car development is going in.

  13. Shame. Nasr is okay I suppose but Ericsson is not worth keeping. Would’ve liked to see someone like Kobayashi taking another Sauber seat.

  14. Quite a boring line up to be honest. I like Nasr, but he seems to have fizzled as the season has gone on, and Ericcson has failed to impress in one and a half seasons.

    1. Well the car didn’t develop as much over the season

      1. Yea, I think Nasr is doing what he can. The car has gone nowhere like Millenium said. We’ll see more of him when he has the right tools.

    2. @todfod “I like Nasr, but his car’s pace seems to have fizzled as the season has gone on”

      Fixed that for you. Apart from Canada Nasr has achieved the maximum with this car that was possible at every race. And he comprehensively out-paced his more experienced team-mate. You can’t ask any more from a rookie driver

      1. Not really. Since Australia, he has had a 5-3 quali record against his teammate, and has not been much quicker than his teammate on racedays either. Nasr is doing well for a driver in his rookie season, but he is paired up against probably the 2nd weakest driver on the grid, and he should be beating him more convincingly.

        1. @todfod Yes, really . A 6-3 record in qualy in his first half season is very nice for a rookie even if his team-mate is the worst driver on the grid(it’s not the early 90’s when the worst driver on the grid would be someone like Taki inoue)

          And the only race when Ericsson was faster than Nasr unequiocally(that is without some kind of problem that wasn’t his fault) was in Canada. Again great for a rookie

          What do you mean by “not much quicker”? If you expect a sec/lap difference then again not in contemporary F1. Senna(and later Alesi) were sometimes 3sec/lap quicker than their team-mate Nakajima but it was in a different era

  15. This is the best thing for Sauber to do. They can now concentrate on developing next years car and sacrifice the rest of this year. The year of experience with both drivers will help everyone in the team. On a sidenote, the last time they had the same two drivers for two seasons in a row (2012) was a really good one for Sauber. If they can refrain from signing any more drivers now, they’ll save a substantial amount of money for in-season development, something that they’ve lost this year with the payment to Van der Garde.

    1. Sauber can’t afford sacrificing anything. They need decent position in the championship because they need the money that comes with.

  16. Happy for Nasr. To me he was just as impressive for a rookie as the TR drivers.

    Shame about Ericsson though. Surely they can get someone better. Palmer for example. Also a pay-driver with deep pockets but bigger potential. Or maybe Ferrari can place JEV there? Nasr and JEV would be a dream line-up for Sauber

  17. Well im happy for both of them

  18. I don’t believe this for a second; sounds like a desperate announcement in a desperate try to keep their car blue and yellow.
    if the Kimi – Bottas rumors become true, then Felipe “Fred” Nasr might join the other Felipe at Williams; not a good time to be a F1 live commentator :)

  19. Keeping Nasr is a very good thing for Sauber. As I’d expected from the minute he signed, he has become the leader of the team, bringing solid results to go along with his benefactors’ sponsorship.

    Ericsson…at times, he’s been demonstratively better over a whole weekend, then he’ll completely disappear for two races. Sometimes when he does go well, his team gives him no favors. Are there better drivers out there? Yes indeed – Marciello, Leclerc, Fuoco would all make for logical improvements. I’d even suggest a Swede-for-Swede trade with Felix Rosenqvist. The important thing is that they have continuity now.

  20. If williams drop Massa ,wont that benefit Nasr by having more Brazilian sponsors? That will be good for Williams .

    1. @royalz Nasr is surely the long term replacement for Massa, for that very reason. Hence, it makes no sense to run them together, but merely sign Nasr back when Massa retires (and Ferrari put a junior in at Sauber).

      1. @fastiesty So we may see Nasr replacing Massa in 2017

  21. I think it’s a good decision by Sauber to keep both drivers. Ericsson might not be very good, but he’s not very bad either. Nasr, on the other hand, is a solid driver (although not spectacular).

    Stability and $$$ will make sure that Sauber keeps improving. They should be getting points finishes more often next year, especially if Ferrari improves their engines further.

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