Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Albert Park, 2018

Leclerc’s arrival led Ericsson to raise his game – Vasseur

2018 F1 season

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Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur believes Marcus Ericsson is performing better since the arrival of his new team mate.

Ericsson, who has been joined at Sauber by Charles Leclerc this year, had gone two seasons without scoring a point before taking ninth place in the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this month.

Vasseur said Ericsson “put a lot of pressure on his shoulders” but believes Leclerc’s arrival also had an effect.

“I think the fact to have Charles in front of him with a lot of expectations around Charles it’s an extra motivation for him.”

The Sauber boss acknowledged there had been some “complaints” when the team opted to keep Ericsson at the end of last year instead of Pascal Wehrlein, who scored their only points last season. However he said Ericsson “was already improving” at the end of last year.

“Last year he did a much better job than before,” said Vassuer.

“He was more than committed over the winter period. He lost a lot of weight, it’s not just for the weight but it’s for the commitment. If you have a look the first events he has much more performance from the beginning of the weekend.

“Probably one of the weaknesses he had last year was that he was a bit far away on the first stints and he always needed time to come back. He was catch up in the last stint of the qualifying but he started from too far away. This season from the beginning he’s much more onto the pace, much more performance from the beginning and it’s important for him and for 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...
Dieter Rencken
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  • 24 comments on “Leclerc’s arrival led Ericsson to raise his game – Vasseur”

    1. Well, what was he waiting for? Not exactly a glowing recommendation for Ericsson. Not sure I would want my team principal to be telling that to the press. It’s like being called a slacker.

      1. Exactly @gwbridge . This is his fifth year in F1, he’s had plenty of time to raise his game.

        he said Ericsson “was already improving” at the end of last year.

        Where to begin…

      2. I wouldn’t call him a slacker myself

        I don’t know the full info since I’m not Alan Turing or “mission control” but while he didn’t score points and was out qualified by pascal, I thought he used to speed up at the end of the race, I thought he was an ice rink speed skater once the fuel was low!

        Maybe his talents right now are owed to shorter sprint races

        Stick him in Le Mans so he can learn heavy cars.

        On a side note, my girlfriend thinks Pascal Wehrlein is a total hottie, so I’m Glad Ericsson got the job, go away pretty boy

      3. Well in a previous comment Vasseur said that Ericsson was 10kg overweight last season. I guess being on the slowest car on the grid, with your place guaranteed due to your relationship with the team’s owners, makes you a slacker.

        1. Exactly. It’s quite possible the team said that since they actually had a chance to score real points this year he would have to shape up or he would be out, financial backing be damned.

      4. @gwbridge, it’s fairly common to hear people commenting about “raising their game” when a new driver comes into the team – for example, there were some who wondered if Hulkenberg had slacked off a bit in 2017 because Palmer didn’t threaten him (leading Hulkenberg to issue a denial that he was slacking off in any way).

        It’s interesting that most of the responses that have been written here are looking at turning this into something of a negative for Ericsson – there have been many here who have been saying that he should lift his performance, but even though he is now perceived as having done so, the response has been to continue to criticise him.

        As others have noted further down the thread, this sounds in part like a way of justifying why Leclerc is behind Ericsson. For all the fanfare that Leclerc arrived in the sport with, he’s been a bit error prone in the opening races (such as spinning the car in China due to an unforced error) and, despite the predictions that Leclerc would immediately begin dominating Ericsson, right now Ericsson is the one who has been getting the better results.

      5. Yea right how right you must have what have leclerc done so good

    2. Good to see him raise his game, but I doubt he can keep himself ahead once Leclerc finds his footing in F1.

    3. I actually think it reflects well on Ericsson, and rather badly on Werhlein.

      1. Sorry, should be a reply to @gwbridge

      2. Yes, obviously.

    4. Ericsson occupies a curious place in F1. He’s certainly the worst driver on the grid but that doesn’t mean he is an embarrassment like backmarkers of the past have been. He’s capable. Maybe even worth a flier in F1 a few years back after his F3 win, although now firmed entrenched as a pay driver. That status makes it difficult for his teammates to make a name for themselves and Leclerc is now in the same uncomfortable position that seemingly cost Wehrlein his F1 career. If you’re a highly-touted youngster, it isn’t enough to just win the teammate battle against Ericsson like Wehrlein did – you need to crush him. And if you crush him… it doesn’t really matter, it is just what is expected of you.

      Basically, being Ericsson’s teammate is a no-win scenario. Either you crush him, in which case you just affirm what people already thought of you, or you barely beat him or – god forbid – lose to him, in which case you best starting looking for another series to race in. I do think that Leclerc is going to find his footing and be crushing Ericsson by season’s end, if not sooner, but it cannot be a comfortable way to start your career knowing that even beating your teammate is not good enough.

      1. @ogopogo I agree, but I’ve also noticed that no matter who Ericsson has been teammates with before Leclerc, he has always started slower than them and later on, been able to not only match them but also start beating them more often. At Caterham, Kobayashi dominated him at first but started losing out to him later on, same with Nasr and Wehrlein, although he was quite close to Wehrlein from the start. I find it slightly weird and impressive that Ericsson always manages to catch up with his teammates. Maybe he’s just a slow learner.

        That being said, while I do think Ericsson has improved quite a bit the past few years, seeing the career of a promising driver like Wehrlein simply end at his hands even though he didn’t even manage to beat him over the season kind of grates me the wrong way. I’m actually glad that Ericsson’s time with Leclerc has not followed the norm so far, and their battle over the season will be interesting to say the least.

      2. He’s certainly the worst driver on the grid

        I think its unfair to place all the blame for Sauber’s performance woes on their drivers. Last year’s car was built to accommodate the Ferrari 2016 engine. Rightly or wrongly, the decision was made to use the 061 engine in preference to redesigning the car to accommodate the improved Ferrari 062 engine. Consequently scoring points was always going to be difficult, especially at the end of the season. I recall one of the TV commentators saying something along the lines of “It’s easy to look good in a good car”, so I guess the corollary is “It’s easy to look bad in a below average car”. This year’s car was built to accommodate this year’s Ferrari engine, and performance is much better.

        1. Finally someone with something understanding on this platform.
          For me it seems like people’s writers here believe Hamilton or Vettel would be scoring so much more points with the car Sauber had last year.
          I mean please wake up and live in a real world.
          Ericsson is not my favorite but please be fair when criticizing.
          Just look at the super kid in Redbull who after 4 years are worth than in the beginning even though the car is much better and competitive.
          But suddenly everyone says he lacks experience????? Ericsson have one year more F1 and not more.

        2. Sauber had a good car in 2015 but Nasr showed who was a better driver. I disagree with the “It’s easy to look good in a good car” statement, for me “It’s hard to look good when you have to deliver results in a good car”. Being good in a bad car doesn’t matter at all.

          1. Did sauber have a good car 2015. I must have missed that season.
            What I remember they managed to get points in the first two or three races, in my eyes that’s not a good car. If it is good than why points only in the beginning of the season???? Or did all other drivers improve except the sauber guys??? For me it sounds strange.

      3. Its not easy for ERI to try to shine in a catastrophic car like the Caterham as a rookie with almost no testing and no FP1:s ( as Leclerc for example ) 2014. But he caught up with the much experienced Kobayachi nevertheless. He outperfomed Nasr over the two years they where teammates and matched Wehrlein ( closest pair on the grid ) despite the 10 kg overweight, which meant as much as 4 tenths (!) a lap on a regular track. The achilles for Marcus (prior Bahrain 2018) is that he never had the luck ( which is needed in the cars he’s been driving ) to score / perform perfectly when chances came. He did several outstanding races and finished 11th and noone really noticed… i think there are few drivers on the grid that would have done better driving the crap he’s been driving. With newstarted Sauber/Alfa there are finally some Hope and a car that are close to the midfield. Perhaps even with a lucky update they can regulary fight for points this season. Finally Marcus have the oppertunity to show what he can do with car that actually can fight some of the midfield on pure pace. He showed that already in Bahrain. Finally all the “No-talented-Paydriver” nonsens can be silenced ones and for all ( there always airheads, trolls and haters ). If you have the all time pole-laptime record of Macau F3 (Against RIC, BOT, HAR and BIA(rip) btw…) you clearly have talent. And there is no F1-driver that havent had financially backings on there way to F1. Its pathetic people still trying to reduce him with that crappy argument. ERI have shown them wrong before, now and most definatly to come. I’ll enjoy every moment and looking forward to the rest of the season!

      4. Worst driver on the grid? Stroll, Hartley, Sirotkin and Le Clerc (for now at least) are slower than him. Gasly maybe. Magnussen/Grojean just sligthty better for me.

        1. Maybe you believe Hamilton would win F1 in a sauber.
          I think he is a better driver but point wise I don’t think he would be that much better than any of the sauber or Williams in one of theirs cars.
          Just be realistic please.

        2. Maybe you believe Hamilton would win F1 in a sauber or a Williams????
          I think he is a better driver but point wise I don’t think he would be that much better than any of the sauber or Williams in one of theirs cars.
          Just be realistic please.

          1. I like being realistic, I agree with your assumption about sauber, BUT not with williams: stroll’s pace is a known quantity, 7 tenths slower than massa, there must be 1 sec between him, or sirotkin who looks similar to him, and hamilton, therefore hamilton would fight to get into q3 with williams, same goes for alonso.

    5. Seems like a statement to deflect from the so-far unconvincing performance from Leclerc

    6. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      23rd April 2018, 23:51

      Well I can agree with anybody who is saying Ericsson has been worse than his new team mates over the first half of the season. That does seem a strange pattern. He did look to quite often manage to beat kobyashi towards the end of the season which wasn’t that bad really. Nasr was significantly better in the first half of 2015, but if I am correct with this, I think Ericsson scored points in about as many (possibly more races) than Nasr. I certainly remember it being close. Nasr certainly was a bit lucky in Australia. But other than that he did overall look better than Ericsson that year. But by the end of the season, Ericsson had actually begun to look a bit better.

      Some don’t seem to agree with this, but I think Ericsson quite clearly edged out Nasr in 2016 through most of the season. That actually looked like a decent season for him certainly an improvement. Nasr may have got more points, but the results averaged out actually showed that Ericsson finished ahead more often as well as out qualifying him. I think he was rated 17th or 16th in the driver ratings on this site. Ahead of many others as there were 22 rankings that year.

      2017 was a good test for Ericsson. A fairly highly rated driver. Again, he looked worse at the start of the season. But as so many don’t seem to respect, Ericsson did miss out on one or two points finishes due to being slightly unlucky. By the end of the season in the last few races, I think he did start to look better than Wehrlein. And their qualifying gap averaged out was closer than any other driver pairing on the grid. Wehrlien did look to be the better driver overall, but there wasn’t much in it pace wise.

      I was one of the few who thought Ericsson would easily beat Leclerc to start with. He has been in F1 for some time and I do think he has some what improved since 2014. The start to this season to me is looking stronger than he’s been in his career so far. He made a mistake in qualifying last race, but his starts in the race have looked impressive and he was outstanding in Bahrain. He must have had some pace to beat the two Force Indias.

      I still will say this, Ericsson hasn’t been a very good driver by F1 standards most of the time. I would rate him below the top 15. But there are certainly several who I think are worse. And basing it just from this season, we would have to put one of the top drivers behind him too.

      I don’t think enough people respect the reasons why Sauber keep holding on to Ericsson over his team mates despite the points looking like he’s worse than them. Despite the huge difference in points in 2015, he has never been dominated by a team mate.

      I just seem to have a different view on pay drivers to most people. If they are fortunate enough to have all this money and sponsors, then why not make the most of it? If you are wanting to race in F1 and you get the opportunity, would you turn it down?
      I used to rate Ericsson as quite easily the worst on the grid. That was half way through the 2015 season. I think he’s now much better than that. And with his sponsors which help the team’s funding, the fact that he’s now better on top of that to me actually makes him deserving of a seat in F1 despite there likely being several drivers that are better than him outside the sport. But at the moment, I think Stroll, Srotkin and Leclerc are clearly not at his pace yet.

    Comments are closed.