Charles Leclerc, Sauber, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Ericsson on Leclerc: ‘A very good driver but I can beat him’

2018 F1 season

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Marcus Ericsson praised new team mate Charles Leclerc but says he can beat his “highly rated” rookie team mate.

“My impression is that he’s a very good driver first of all and also a very good person,” Ericsson told media including RaceFans at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
F1 testing day six in pictures
“He’s a humble guy. Already I got to know him a bit last year but then obviously more now over the winter and these last few weeks. There’s no question he’s a very talented guy.

“But of course I believe in myself and I think I can beat him. I need to use my experience, my skills that I developed the last couple of years. But I’m sure it’s going to be a close fight.”

The pair have given Sauber similar feedback on their overhauled C37, says Ericsson.

“I know the track conditions were not great so it was difficult in general in testing. But it was really positive that we felt really similar things when we were in the car.

“Let’s see tomorrow [Wednesday] how he feels. But he’s a clever guy, I trust what he’s saying and what he feels. Hopefully they can have a really good today.”

Ericsson said it will reflect well on him if he can put up a competitive showing against another highly-rated junior driver from a manufacturer team.

“Last year with Pascal [Wehrlein] he was close getting the Mercedes seat and then he ended up here in Sauber.

“Over the whole season I think we were the two closest team mates on average speed-wise over the year. Unfortunately we didn’t have the car to show it higher up. But it was a good benchmark for me, we were very close.

“This year I have Charles which is one of the most highly-rated rookies for many years in F1. So it’s perfect for me to show my abilities and show what I can do behind the wheel.”

RaceFans is covering this week’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya live from the track. Follow our coverage here

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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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  • 27 comments on “Ericsson on Leclerc: ‘A very good driver but I can beat him’”

    1. if I was a pay driver I would shut up about real drivers

      will be fun to see him soundly beaten by a rookie

      1. Well, he’s hardly going to show up to an interview and say ‘You know what, Leclerc’s about 27 seconds quicker than me, I don’t stand a chance’

    2. Does this mean that Ericsson just needs to be close enough to Leclerc to have another seat for 2019? With the added benefit, that Leclerc is so highly rated he can even perform a little bit worse compared to his team-mate and still be around next season?

      1. You’re right, he can get away with being beaten by a rookie and retain the most undeserving seat in the sport. After all he’s been beaten by teams mates for the last 4 years and he’s still here somehow. What does another year of his incompetence matter?

      2. It means if LeClerc cant thrash the most underrated guy on the grid he wont be an interesting rookie for the top teams anymore. At that point he will be out like his predecessors if he cant start paying for his seat.

      3. Exactly. He can be almost as goodand stay on. Same as Wherlein. But once Alfa Romeo buys the team he is out.

    3. I want as many teams on the grid as possible. If Ericsson is one of the reasons that Sauber is still on the grid (of course, they’re now supported by Alfa Romeo), then I’m glad he’s racing. I’d sooner see a team with a pay driver and a highly rated rookie than two gaps on the grid. In fairness to Ericsson, he’s not totally dreadful and wasn’t too far behind Wehrlein (and Nasr, previously). If I had a team, I’d still sign him over a few other drivers on the grid at present.

      That said, if most fans and media are right about Leclerc’s talent, I’m sure Ericsson will be a few tenths down at best.

      1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
        7th March 2018, 14:01

        I’d take Ericsson over the two Williams boys any day.

        1. I’d take the Williams boys over Ericsson any day.

          Stroll may be incredibly wayward at times, but he can capitalise on opportunities when they are presented (Baku and Monza) which is what midfield teams need. Ericsson hasn’t done that to date. When big points have been on offer, is has been his team mates (both Nasr and Wehrlein) who scored them. Stroll is also 19, so I’d be willing to cut him some slack.

          Sirotkin is no mug and we can’t judge him yet as he hasn’t actually raced an f1 car yet. If the stories about how technically savvy and the way in which he applies himself in the factory are true, he’ll be a solid grand prix driver.

          1. Josh (@canadianjosh)
            7th March 2018, 16:30

            True, all fair points.

          2. Baku, not so much really if you consider that he was behind Massa when Massa slowed down.
            In reality, Massa should’ve won that race. But his car failed.
            Stroll was right behind him and shoud’ve won it after his car failed.
            But no, he lost a position to Ricciardo braking so early that even Massa with a broken car catched him on the first corner.

            Then lost another place to Bottas on the finishing line.

            Stroll’s best showing was that Q3 on Monza, it was the only time he seemed like fitting there truly.

            1. There’s no way Stroll could’ve kept ahead of both Ricciardo and Bottas. Both of them are quick drivers in quick cars, and Stroll was a sitting duck in that Williams. If he had lost the place to anyone else, it would’ve been questionable. But 3rd place was as good as he was going to get, and would’ve been as good as Massa would’ve got if he hadn’t retired from the race.

            2. Williams had the pace that day.
              It was their strongest race all year.
              Stroll was OK there at best.
              Slower than Massa as always in the race but at least competitive and consistent. And finished.
              Even the Williams crew said that Massa should’ve won that race. So, what i’m saying is if Stroll was just a little better rookie, he could’ve won it. As for second place, a couple of laps 0.050s faster would do it.

      2. he is a talented guy and he did show time to time some real speed in a dog of a car and would scored some points if he had the luck werhlein had or even nasr.

        i would have him over some drivers as well but if i could i would replace him with felix if sauber is too keen on having a swede.

        i really hope he does well this year but what if, what if he beats leclerc, that would be a disaster for him and people would yell that werhlein was better.

        if marcus can keep up to him and have a close fight he would atleast not look too bad.

        but if drivers like sirotkin, stroll and even marcus is needed to keep teams alive, they can stay as long its needed for that team to get back on its feet

        1. No. Just no.
          If you really think Nasr was lucky to score those 2 points on that wet race at Brazil 16?
          Cuz Ericsson crashed his car that race.

          Those were Sauber’s only points that year, which put them ahead of Manor at the last minute, for a better bonus from FIA. And then they sacked the guy.

          It was not luck by any means.

        2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          8th March 2018, 9:37

          This is a similar point to what I made. Whirlein and Nasr since 2015 have only got points down to other drivers misfortune. Erisccon was the closest to the points out of all these drivers without retirements clearly helping him get there in Mexico 2016. 11th with only 1 Manor of 22 cars retiring.

          He will have had a chance in Baku and Mexico this year if things had gone his way. And also, If there had been a collision with several top team drivers in Mexico 2016 (which there often is) He would have been 8th. Then I get the feeling his race will have been remembered.

          I think Ericsson overall did a better job than Stroll last year and he still he just about good enough to deserve to be here IMO. His experience with Sauber will be a benefit. And him money on top ofcourse will also help. I do expect that since he’s in his 4th year with Sauber, it is unlikely that a new rookie will beat him without a lot of luck. But yes, I do expect that by next season, Leclerc will probably be better. Given the difference between Wehrlein who already had a years experience wasn’t that big, I don’t think a new driver will beat him instantly.

      3. Normally I agree with you, but not here! If sauber, in order to remain in f1, has to keep firing better drivers than ericsson every single year, then I’m better off without sauber, 18 cars grid!

    4. I applaud his spirit, though I wouldn’t bet on his chances. The cars near the back of the grid mask the abilities of their drivers sometimes, though I think an incandescent talent like Leclerc will shine anyway. If Ericsson improves, that’s a bonus for all concerned.

      1. This is a very good question. How much skill can be shown in a back of the grid car?

        1. Surely if someone is a top driver he will emerge even from a bottom of the grid car, look at alonso in 2001 in minardi, no points, but his performance was so good he was spotted by renault which ended up being a championship car a few years later, so no matter how slow sauber is, if leclerc is 1 sec faster than ericsson he will be interesting for better teams.

        2. @jureo, Schumi, in his F1 debut at Spa in 1991, qualified 7th in a Jordan, which was not a good car.

          1. Sure we could say Vettel in 2008 STR in Monza…

            Schumacher at the time was the next generation driver, and turned out to be about the greatest of all time. Certainly he wiped the floor with drivers of previous level.

            Alonso likewise, was above the level of 2001 drivers.

            All those events are 10-30 years in the past. Today drivers arrive in F1 ready, other drivers in F1 are of considerable skill, nobody can come in and be 2 seconds better than his teammate, because no teammate is 2 seconds off pace. And if you are 3 tenths ahead of your teammate in a Sauber… what kind of awesome drive can you do?

            Lewis Hamilton is currently 3 tenths or so infront of his teammates. Easy Champion in Mercedes. But if he was 3 tenths ahead of Ericsson in a Sauber, would anyone even care?

    5. One interesting thing that comes to me reading comments here and elsewhere is what will people say if Ericsson beats Leclerc. Will they say that’s because his previous years in F1 and that Leclerc is a rookie. Seems like a tough place, get beaten and a lot of people will be saying well that’s what we thought he’s no good. Beat Leclerc and people will not give him the recognition. Or will they? Buy how much Ericsson beat Leclerc to get some praise, if they are even and Ericsson beats him with a point or two (and yes points isn’t all, but it’s a lot) I don’t think a lot of people will give him that. I think they will more focus on why Leclerc didn’t get into his first year more quickly. Tricky situation for Ericsson.

      Personally I’m not a huge Ericsson fan more than I think it’s fun with a Swedish driver. But would rather see for example Rosenquist in F1.

    6. As long as Leclerc is continuing putting his Sauber into the gravel, like he’s done in almost every day of testing, i may continue believing at Ericsson’s words.

    7. Nobody cares if Ericsson can beat him or not.
      For two reasons :
      he can’t
      even if he could, it would not change the fact that he’s still there only cuz he is paying for it.

    Comments are closed.