2017 F1 driver rankings #18: Ericsson

2017 F1 season review

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The 2017 season was a miserable one for the Sauber drivers. Lumbered with a year-old Ferrari engine, Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein were seldom in the hunt for points.

For the second year in a row Ericsson ended the year with a zero next to his name. Yet again he, rather than his points-scoring team mate, is the one who has been retained in the team’s driver line-up.

Marcus Ericsson

Beat team mate in qualifying9/20
Beat team mate in race4/11
Races finished14/20
Laps spent ahead of team mate442/882
Qualifying margin+0.03

Of course this is more a case of financial expedience than a vote of confidence in Ericsson’s ability and potential. But with better luck he might have collected points on a couple of occasions.

In Azerbaijan, with ten laps to go he was running tenth ahead of Wehrlein. But Ericsson was being slowed by floor damage and with Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren drawing closer the team decided to protect a rare points finish by telling Ericsson to let Wehrlein through.

In Mexico he ran eight before his pit stop but lost a place to Vandoorne, who was able to pit later during a Virtual Safety Car period. That would have cost him a points finish even if he hadn’t later suffered a power unit problem.

Ericsson fared better against Wehrlein than many probably expected. The qualifying score line would have been more one-sided had it not been for Wehrlein’s late-season handling problems, but even so Ericsson showed clear progress in terms of one-lap pace over the season. He also tended to get off the line better than his team mate. Ericsson blamed a weight disparity between the pair which meant he couldn’t position the ballast in his car as effectively as his team mate.

But Wehrlein usually had the beating of his team mate in the races. Among the few occasions Ericsson led him home was Brazil, when Wehrlein had tried another of Sauber’s ambitious pit stop strategies which didn’t work out. In Austria Wehrlein started from the pits and still beat his team mate.

A touch of over-driving compromised Ericsson’s season too. He crashed out in Japan and collided with Kevin Magnussen at Austin.

It was a close decision whether to rank him ahead of Lance Stroll, who fared much less well against a better-rated team mate. However Stroll made fewer serious errors than Ericsson – it wasn’t the Williams driver who binned his car during a Safety Car period in Monaco.

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Over to you

Finished ahead of Wehrlein far more than many would have expected, but unfortunately this seems to have lowered Wehrlein’s stock, rather than raised Ericsson’s. It’s difficult to judge either Sauber as they’ve languished at the back, but Ericsson certainly hasn’t been terrible and has compared well to his team-mate.

What’s your verdict on Marcus Ericsson’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.

Add your views on the other drivers here:

2017 F1 season review

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Author information

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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42 comments on “2017 F1 driver rankings #18: Ericsson”

  1. Stroll outside the bottom three? So the controversy starts…

    1. @hahostolze Have to say i’m genuinely scared where Kimi will show up

      1. Amazingly, the F1 team principals had him level 6th with Alonso.

        1. Well, i mean i DO believe Alonso is generally fiercly overrated, so ….

        2. @hahostolze Actually motorsport.com lists Raikkonen as level 7th with Sainz Jr.

        3. Glad I’m not the only one who raised an eyebrow at that. I agree that Sainz and Hulkenberg were better than Bottas on the whole this year (who they ranked 10th) but I fail to see how Raikkonen was. Given how competitive the Ferrari was ending the season with no wins and 1 pole is a shocking result.

          1. Kimi was unofficially #2 while Bottas was allowed to race Hamilton all year. Kimi would likely have won Monaco and Hungary had Ferrai not ensured Seb got the maximum points.

    2. @hahostolze Switching around 17th and 18th-placed driver may not have that much potential for controversy, I’d think.

      1. @crammond Doing my best to stir some up nonetheless ;-)

        1. Also, you know when a driver has had a forgettable season when around half the comments are about other drivers’ ranking.

      2. True. It’s not a major talking point. Still, I would think Ericcson was much better than Stroll this season.

  2. I don’t know how Ericsson managed to avoid the last spot on this ranking.
    Only full time driver not scoring any point. Enough said.

    1. Runner-up of 2016 PU cars though.
      The last person to do that was nobody less than Lewis Hamilton ;)

    2. But he’s so cute though! If for nothing else, he’s should stay in F1 for that.

    3. This is true, but he also led about 50% of the laps over Wehrlein and even though he lost out to the German the margins over the season were never large. His qualifying deficit is the smallest on the grid, noone qualified closer to their team mate.

  3. “Ericsson blamed a weight disparity between the pair which meant he couldnt position the ballast as effectively as his teammate”…Wrong. First of all, Ericsson didnt brought it up, it was Swedish motorsportjournalists that did. Second of all, He had an overweight between 2-10 kilo ( depending with/without upgrade ) which meant 2-4 tenths a lap on an avarage racetrack. The Saubercar was over the minimum weight with Ericsson in it so there were not a mattet of ballast, it was pure overweight. Consider the overall avarage time-difference in qualify where as little as 0.049 sec between ERI and WEH then the margins and comparison clearly puts it in another perspective.
    To put Stroll before Ericsson doesnt suprise me. The massive anti-Eri campain is as strong as one-eyed and regardless what Ericsson does they have made up their mind. The just dont wanna see the big picture , they stare only at facts that support their cause… such as points. Scoring points in a Sauber 2017 was a lotteri that didnt won. It shall be interesting to see where they put Wehrlein and Massa as a comparison when for instanser the fact that teammate vs teammate in qualify looks like: WEH-ERI (11-7 avarage 0.049 sec) MAS-STR (17-2 avarage 0.691 sec). Take a look at this instead. Supported with numbers and facts rather than personal opinion:

  4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    7th December 2017, 13:09

    It’s hard to believe that Marcus has competed in 76 Gran Prix already and next year he’ll nearly touch the century. So far he only has 9 career points – if he manages to hit 100 races, it has to be some kind of F1 record.

    That’s a lot of seasons to stay in F1 while not showing any superiority over your teammate. Felipe Nasr outscored him 27 to 9 and 2 to 0 in 2015 and 2016 – in half the entries he scored double the points.

    1. Douglas Dahlström
      7th December 2017, 15:36

      Yes, but Ericsson was way better in qualifying over their 2 seasons as team mates. In 2015, Nasr was better but in 2016, Ericsson had the edge. Nasr was lucky to score in Brazil but Ericsson’s drive from 22nd to 11th in Mexico was far more impressive.

    2. I agree with you that the first halv of 2015 when they had a car that actually could score points he should have done better.
      After that he was better than Nasr even if he didn’t score any points. But claiming it should be possible after middle of 2015 is just nonsense.
      Impossible to fight about the points with those cars. Scoring points was just luck and circumstances. He should have got one point in Baku though, but he was hit by WEH and the team later ordered him to swap places.
      So if you look at points he has been outscored but taking a closer look at the data it shows something else.
      If we compare him with WEH this year the average difference is 0.03s in qualifying. Take into consideration that ERI has 10kg overweight from the min 728kg compared to WEH, that is around 0.3s/lap. That would actually make him faster than WEH.

      So I can’t understand how people and journalists (especially British journalists) can rate WEH like a wonderchild and ERI one of the worst drivers on the grid. Either is WEH as bad as ERI or ERI as good as WEH.

      On top of that WEH got inside information about tyre temp from Mercedes right at the start of the season that he didn’t share with the team. According to journalist that have sources in the team he always wanted to know the tyre temp and let them cool off before qualifying as Saubers target temp was a lot higher. The engineers in Sauber managed to find out that they worked better with lower temp and that was one of the reasons of the improvement at the end of the season.
      WEH was able to benefit from that info for many races before they found out.

    3. @freelittlebirds
      I don’t quite know how he hasn’t shown any superiority over his team mates. In the 2nd half of 2014, he quite often was beating Kobyashi. In the 2nd half of 2015, most people tended to agree that Ericsson was getting the better of Nasr although the points didn’t show it. Although overall it was certainly clear Nasr did do a better job on the whole. And then in 2016, I think you would get very few people who could say Nasr had a better season than Ericsson. The driver rankings here last year had Ericsson in 15th and Nasr 20th. Quite some difference. It has been bad luck as Keith said that Ericsson hasn’t managed to get any points over the past 2 years. If there had been the average amount of retirements in a race in Mexico last year, he likely will have got 1 or 2 points. If the team did what they said they would with the team orders in Baku, he will have got a point. And if he didn’t have issues with the VSC and the fact he retired in Mexico this year, that is likely he could have managed to get 2 points this year. He may be inconsistent. But he has had plenty of decent performances. Just because they are not in the points doesn’t really mean he couldn’t do a much better job in a better car. If Sauber get better next year, I can see him doing at leased a reasonable job and getting at least a few points over the season.

      1. @thegianthogweed you have so many statistics on Ericsson, do you have by any chance the percentage of trouble free wet racing weekends? That’s something that I would like to know.

        1. I know he has weaknesses and he usually does struggle most when the track is wet, but that isn’t relating to my comment.

          1. Just want to know, genuinely curious, which is odd coming from me, but honest this time, but just this time

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        8th December 2017, 0:32

        I agree with everything’s that’s been said here but I also think it’s safe to say that he hasn’t impressed us either. When you have 76 Gran Prix under your belt, just by luck of the draw, a driver will perform really well in a few.

        His teammates are no longer in F1 which makes it hard to argue that he deserves a 5th or 6th season given the shortage of cars on the grid.

        If he had emphatically beaten Wehrlein, this may have been a different story but he didn’t.

        1. @freelittlebirds
          Theres no shortage of cars. You could easily free up 10 seats if F1 actually where looking for talent.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            8th December 2017, 18:10

            I’m pretty sure there’s a shortage of cars:-) Vettel alluded to that when he was talking about Kubica’s potential return to F1.

            If a driver is half a second quicker over another driver then he’s worth a lot of money to any team – buying half a second without any reliability or consistency costs a fortune in F1 and most of the time they can’t even figure out how to improve the car.

  5. Ericsson blamed a weight disparity between the pair which meant he couldn’t position the ballast in his car as effectively as his team mate.

    Are you sure about this? Link please? Because, for me, from the articles I read about it I couldn’t figure out whether or not both cars were actually over the minimum weight limit even without ballast, making those 10 kg extra (or whatever it was) far more punishing.

    1. I think it’s fairly well-known by now that Ericsson’s weight is a problem for him, he even cited this in his first season (2014) as a reason for not comparing favorably against Kobayashi.

      1. And still this site among many leave that fact out or get it wrong….wonder why…

        1. Thanks for the links Douglas. So according to Ericsson himself, he was over the weight limit for much of the season. This means Keith’s comment about ballast plain wrong, it’s not as if there was any ballast for him to place in the car at all! 3-4 tenths are a lot indeed. If that’s true one wonders how good a driver Ericsson might actually be. Let’s hope he gets a fairer chance next year.

          1. it’s not as if there was any ballast for him to place in the car at all!

            The ballast was there; all in the driver’s seat ;)

      2. He is not that bad
        He improved a lot
        That one race in Mexico
        That couple P11 finishes
        Nasr luck in Brasil
        Wherlein only scores because of DNFs
        He is fat (new and my favourite)

        Still hasn’t shown why he should be on the grid though

        1. @johnmilk Lol. Yeah that Sauber is magnificent. Must be the drivers fault that they don’t fight about podiums.

          Do you actually think it’s possible to score without a lot of DNF’s?

          So what else could he have done with that car? As you say that Wehrlein did not score because of DNF’s and extreme luck with vsc. Oooh sorry, he scored in Baku because he hit ERI and smashed his floor up and could pass because of temorders.

    2. If he had 10kg against WEH, either both cars was over 728 kg or just hitting that number as Wehrlein weights 65kg and Ericsson 75kg.
      I actually think they managed to improve at the end of the season so the difference was around 5-6 kg.
      But still he lost around 0.3s/lap due to the weight.

  6. Douglas Dahlström
    7th December 2017, 15:34

    Thank you for actually being fair to Ericsson. As a Swede, it really hurts to read just bad things about him but you managed to give him some credtis for being comparable to Wehrlein in qualifying and the fact that Pascal probably wound’t been 10th in Baku without team orders. Don’t forget about Spain, though. He was on a once stop strategy and held similar pace to Pascal but was unlucky to do his pit stop just before the VSC (just like in Mexico) which cause him to drop to last position. He still climbed to 11th

  7. ERI is fast. No doubt about that. Don´t forget that WEH crushed wonderchlid OCO 2016.

      1. In my world 75/25 counts as crushing…

  8. I think Ericcson is a better driver than he seems. Not a top one, but a good mid-grid driver.

  9. I think Ericsson being so far down the ranking says more for the current proficiency of the F1 grid than anything else (I would have put him ahead of Stroll though). He gets some bad press, and has made the occasional glaring error, but he’s had some decent teammates and he’s never been embarrassed over a season.

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