2017 F1 team mate battles: Ericsson vs Wehrlein at Sauber

2017 F1 season review

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Marcus Ericsson’s connections to the investors which put money into Sauber in the middle of 2016 inevitably prompted claims he would get favourable treatment within the team.

Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Sauber hit out at “speculative and widespread media reports today that our race drivers have not been, and are not being, treated equally”. Meanwhile team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was shown the door.

But for all this innuendo about what was going on within the team, the score line over the balance of the year came down solidly in Wehrlein’s favour.

He was the team’s only visitor to the points all year, Ericsson not having reached the top ten since the 2015 Italian Grand Prix. Wehrlein sat out the first two races and much of testing too due to injury but nonetheless out-qualified Ericsson in his first four races. In Canada, the race before Kaltenborn’s ejection, Wehrlein crashed in qualifying and Ericsson got the upper hand.

Wehrlein was less happy with his car’s handling in the races after the summer break. Ericsson out-qualified him more often than not in the second half of the season, but Wehrlein said he was much happier with his car’s handling after the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Lumbered with a year-old engine, the team took various gambles with their race strategy in an attempt to grab some points, but were usually unsuccessful. Unreliability also blunted their edge: Ericsson ran in the points early on in Mexico before being sidelined with a technical problem.

Ericsson vs Wehrlein: The scores

Ericsson vs Wehrlein: Season results

Marcus EricssonQ
Pascal WehrleinQ

Ericsson vs Giovinazzi

After a fine debut, Giovinazzi’s second race went sour
Wehrlein took part in the first two practice sessions for the season-opening round in Melbourne before stepping down due to injury. That meant Antonio Giovinazzi was handed his F1 race debut at short notice, getting just 18 laps in final practice before qualifying began.

Impressively, Giovinazzi got within two-tenths of a second of knocking Ericsson out in Q1, and brought his car home 12th in the race. Two crashes at the next round in China took the shine off his debut, however, and at the next round Wehrlein was back.

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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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21 comments on “2017 F1 team mate battles: Ericsson vs Wehrlein at Sauber”

  1. The idea that a team could sabotage it’s own chances by providing preferential treatment to it’s least talented driver is fairly unlikely to be true. Either way, it’s hard to argue that either driver has been particularly impressive over the course of the year.

    But, with a year-old Ferrari engine and huge leadership changes, this was never going to be a great year for Sauber and to get points at all isn’t to be sniffed at. A shame that we’ve possibly seen the last of Wehrlein after two season’s driving the worst machinery of the year.

    1. I don’t know if that happened but it would not surprise me the slightest. Getting a seat at sauber is all about money. The more you bring the more you get. Literally. And because ericson is bringing good money it is no wonder that sauber would give him preferential treatment. After all sauber needs ericson as much as ericson needs sauber. Ericson needs the seat, sauber needs the money. Getting the better parts could even be in ericson’s contract. That doesn’t mean they’d make wehrlein’s car slower on purpose although in reality that is what happens if ericson’s car is your primary focus.

      I think it is pretty naive to think f1 teams always back the faster driver. F1 is a sport dominated by money. Sauber needs a driver who can do decent job on track while doing great job with the check book.

    2. I’ve read that actually the team did give Ericsson preferential treatment – he got the ligher chassis earlier as well as some of the updates.
      A team that chooses to run Ericsson over better drivers like Wehrlein, or indeed Giovanazzi for reason of the drivers nationality is not a team thinking rationally @ben-n

  2. Wehrlein has been done dirty, two seasons in a row now he’s performed with by far the worst car on the grid and now he’s seemingly out of the sport.

    Meanwhile Ericsson could potentially start his 5th year have done absolutely nothing of note in his entire F1 career. Stroll has been heavily criticised for basically bank-rolling the Williams team in exchange for a seat but at least Lance has age on his side and has given the occasional impressive performance. Meanwhile Ericsson is doing the exact same at Sauber yet has been beaten by his teammate for the past 3 seasons and genuinely doesn’t perform any different than he did in his first season in the sport. Maybe I’m being harsh considering the cars he’s driven but I fail to see how this guy still deserves his seat.

    1. Spot on.

      One season he has been able to score points and even then Nasr showed him the way, like every team-mate he’s had. What he is still doing in the sport after four years is beyond me. Shouldn’t even have been given a second year.

    2. Stroll-Massa qualify, 2-17
      Avarage margin -0.691 sec

      Ericsson-Wehrlein qualify, 7-11
      Avarage margin -0.049 sec
      ( incl. Ericsson 2-10 kilo overweight)

      In Ericssons 4 years he have had half a season ( 1st half 2016) with a car that could score points on pure pace alone.

    3. Regularly shaded by Kobayashi, Nasr, then Wehrlein, and a particularly embarrassing weekend alongside Lotterer, but he’s the one left standing. I’m curious if his sponsors actually think Marcus will turn into a top driver given enough time.

    4. @davef1
      Believing Stroll has made an occasional impressive performance it kinda says it all about your assessment. Read a few posts belov for some proper analysing which doesnt only count championship points.

      1. @rethla
        Way to totally miss the point. My point was, why has Stroll been criticised while Ericsson seemingly gets a free pass where one is a rookie and the other has had four seasons where he has done nothing impressive. And yes Stroll did impress during the Baku weekend and Monza qualifying.

        And by proper analysis do you mean like being beaten by Lotterer by over a second in his first ever qualifying?

        1. Ericsson gets a free pass, thats a good one. He has been the most criticised driver since he entered F1. If you find impressive drives by Stroll you should have no problems finding impressive drives by Ericsson, unless you are going only by the points that is. Ericssons main problem is that he isnt consistent and reliable.

  3. I am sure someone will disagree with your accessments of peformances, this year and previous ones. But not me. I think you nailed that one. Ericson gives pay drivers a bad name. He is not a bad driver, its just I struggle to understand why he still has a seat, well we all know why he still has a seat.

  4. Before the stroll naysayers have their say, is there any doubt that stroll not better?

  5. Favourable treatment claims got burried in Baku when Wehrlein got the point due to teamorder. The four points in Spain was a lucky strike of VSC just in time for Wehrlein and just the opposite for Ericsson. You cant get points with this years Sauber without luck. Wehrlein had it, Ericsson didnt. As simple as that, without taking credit from Pascal, because it has to be done. And he did it well.
    Wehrlein had the uppger hand (11-7) in Qualify with the grids closest avarage margin of 0.049 sec teammate vs teammate. Worth mentioning is that the Saubercar with Marcus in it this year weight from 2-10 kilo ( depending the uppgraderar this year ) more which is about 2-4 tenths a lap on an avarage racetrack. That puts the numbers and margins in clearly another perspective…

    1. These points in Spain were a result of a good strategy and a very good race pace. Wehrlein managed to lose only one place as a result of a time penalty. Without that penalty and a good pitstop he could even have been 6th. Ericsson was almost as fast, but he was unlucky indeed. Still, Sauber’s good form in Spain suggested that their chassis was quite good. Perhaps a top driver would have scored points on a regular basis in that car.

  6. The division betwen laps lead for Ericsson and Wehrlein is crazy. I know it’s been close between the two this year, but THAT close? Wow. Races finished ahead and qualifyings won is definitely for Wehrlein’s advantage, but not nearly as big as I expected.

    1. @chrischrill
      The Sauber drivers seemed to rarely be on the same strategy, so that might explain some of it.

  7. Ericsoon was the only full season driver not to score a point

  8. If they keep Ericsson next year it’s a conplete sham.

  9. It is the case that for Manor and Sauber in recent years have only really managed points because of other drivers misfortune. I don’t like the amount of critisism towards Ericsson for not getting points in the last couple of years just because his team mates got some. In those 2 years, Ericsson has been the closest to the points without retirements obviously helping him get there and that was in Mexico last year. In his case, concidering his drive, it was unlucky for him that only a manor retired in that race. Even last year when people say Nazr got the point and Ericsson didn’t. Well, that is true and Ericsson had a bad race. But drivers like Grosjean, Raikonnen and several others I think crashed out or had issues which helped Nazr out. These are the races that allow Sauber to get points so it is still an achivement that they manage to get points as that is what they need to do. Ericsson has been close to getting some many more times than people think, but has just been extremely unlucky. This year, Wehrlein did benifit from the safety car in Spain and also picked up a penalty, but did manage points. But Ericsson only just missed out and was 11th. In Baku, Ericsson was far better in the first stint of the race. Then there Wehrlein had a messy overtake attempt on Ericsson which resulted in a little damage on Ericsson’s car. The team promised the position to be swapped back if Wehrlein couldn’t pull away. That didn’t happen and neither did the position swap. Probably because Vandoorne was too close to Ericsson to risk doing this. But this is something I think too many people are ignoring. That was a point that Ericsson would have almost certainly got if the team had done what they said.
    Then in Mexico, Ericsson was running 9th or there abouts when his engine blew up. It looked pretty likely that he will have had a points finish that race but probably no higher than 10th. Both of the last 2 years, he’s had several races where he’s been unlucky not to get points and people are often just basing it on that that he isn’t good enough. All of Wehrlein’s points finishes also were due to other drivers retiring. One reason why I thought his drive in Austria last year was a little bit over rated.

    I think Ericsson and Wehrlein are really evenly matched. They both seem to have up and down performances. But I persoanlly think they have both had a pretty equal amount of good performences over the past 2 years. But the negative point towards Ericsson is he certainly makes more mistakes. But that is the only area IMO that Ericsson is weaker than Wehrlein. Everyone is just basing Ericsson’s past 2 years on that he’s scored nothing. If you look at his actual performances, he hasn’t been that bad. He’s not great, but is good enough to deserve to be in F1 IMO and his money is a bonus on top of that. I think Sauber should keep the current line up, but if they are wanting another driver, I think I can understand why they would prefer to keep Ericsson and that will be related to the money. if that happens, hopefully Wehrlein will be able to get a drive in another seat.

    1. Totally agree. ERI-WEH, 7-11 in qualify with avarage margin of 0.049 sec says much about how close they are. And considering ERIs car about 2-10 kilo heavier than WEHs ( driver+Car ofc. ) which means 2-4 tenths a lap, then ERIs speed and pace suddenly seems much better than at first look at it. The “paydriver-nonsens” is as always something Thrown at him. Well, everyone on the grid have/had financially backings. So someone believe in him? Whats wrong with that? You dont have the qualify/pole-all time record in Macau (ahead of Bottas, Richardo, Bianchi, Hartley etc the same year ) if you where just a medioker driver ( that some lunatic then decides to throw millions of dollars at…). The critisism and harsh judgement on Marcus is to much to say the least.

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