Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Paul Ricard, 2018

Ericsson says he needs crash-free weekend to “keep up with Charles”

2018 Austrian Grand Prix

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Marcus Ericsson says he needs an error-free weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix to keep up with his team mate.

While Ericsson took the team’s first points of the season in Bahrain, all their subsequent scores have come from Charles Leclerc. Over the past five races the team’s rookie Formula 1 driver has taken four top 10 finishes and decisively out-qualified Ericsson each time.

Ericsson said a heavy crash in the first practice session at Paul Ricard was the “biggest problem” with his weekend. “That puts you on the back foot and you’re always playing catch-up,” he said.

“I was on the pace all the way through FP1 so that was a step forward. It felt I was on the same level of Charles in FP1 before the crash whereas the last few weekends he’s been a bit stronger.”

Ericsson said he had the car more to his liking in France and hopes to be on a par with Leclerc in Austria. “I think the changes prior to the weekend with set-up and systems settings and stuff seemed to be in the right direction for me. I think we’ve learned some things there that we can bring to Spielberg.

“If we manage to have a clean weekend there without any crashes and other problems it will be interesting to see if I can keep up with Charles because he’s obviously extremely strong at the moment and doing a really good job with the car we have. With a clean weekend I hope I can be at the same level.”

Aside from his crash there were positives to take from last weekend’s race, said Ericsson, including “probably my best qualifying of the year with almost zero preparation.”

“I had eight push laps prior to qualifying going into the session. To put it in Q2 was really a good effort. In Q2 I was also one-tenth off Charles in the first run, and in the second run I did a mistake. I think we could have been a few places up. But overall it was a very good qualifying.”

He said he was still suffering from a lack of track time in the race.

“[In] the first part of the race it hurt me a bit that I didn’t have so many laps,” he said. “I was struggling a bit in the first stint and I also I didn’t really get the tyres to work after the Safety Car. I think I lost [Stoffel] Vandoorne and Brendon [Hartley] there in the first stint.

“But then I managed to get the tyres to work after 10 or 15 laps. I stabilised the time and when Fernando [Alonso] was behind he couldn’t really catch me, doing the same pace as the guys ahead.

“And then we did a good job around the pit stop, I pushed really hard to undercut Brendon and we managed to do that successfully. And then the last stint on ultra [softs] was actually quite good, we caught up the Williamses and overtook them, had a decent second half of the race.”

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27 comments on “Ericsson says he needs crash-free weekend to “keep up with Charles””

  1. So many justification statements. I feel bad for Ericsson, the pressure must be too tense.

    1. @ruliemaulana yep, shouldn’t be easy. And don’t get me started with Grosjean, at least Marcus scored. Dammit, even Stroll hasn’t a zero on the board.

      1. True. On leaderboard Grosjean looks much worse.

        1. But we have seen Grosjean displaying talent in the past. We have never seen that from Ericsson before.

  2. It was time to go many seasons ago. I hope this is his last.

  3. Of course, and bags more of talent would help too. (I really don’t want to be nasty here, as Ericsson seems like a hardworking professional but at some point, you have to say, Charles is naturally more gifted and that’s a chiasm that hardworking and luck might not bridge)

    1. @tango I wonder if, for a driver in his position, it wouldn’t be easier to just admit your teammate belongs to another class; this could also reduce the pressure on yourself too. But then I think that you can’t reach that level without blindly think you’re simply the best driver in the world and that it’s only a matter of circumstances if you don’t have a few World Championships in your pockets.

      1. @m-bagattini Wouldn’t expect it yet because Marcus is a professional sportsman. Never declare one’s team-mate is in a different league to you if you can see that a significant performance improvement is in your reach. Note that Marcus isn’t suggesting he gets the improvement from anywhere abstract; losing a ton of track time will prevent anyone from reaching their optimal performance, and Marcus has done that more than once this season.

        The sentence structures indicate that Marcus at least suspects that Charles is just plain better than him (and that therefore taking your route would be an option later), but actually saying so when he can try crashing less and getting himself more track time to reduce the gap would feel like prematurely giving up.

    2. That’s what was being said about Rosberg and yet he reached the top step with dedication and hard work. Though I rate Rosberg way higher than Ericsson.

      1. @spoutnik Rosberg was always fast and was outperforming Schumacher regularly before Hamilton arrived. In terms of pace, he was close to Ricciardo, but without the same racing nous. I don’t think Ericsson is anywhere near the same level as either.

      2. I actually thought of Rosberg when writing the comment @spoutnik and it was to him I was referring to when saying hardwork and luck could bridge a small gap in talent.

        Yes @m-bagattini , I believe it is indeed impossible to admit it and still find the strength to carry on, at least at the pinnacle of motorsport… So poor Ericsson hasn’t got a choice but to buckle down and try. I for one won’t diss him for it.

      3. Rosberg was pretty close to Hamilton every year from 2013 to 2018 and he beat a post-prime Michael Schumacher 3 years straight too (although they were fighting over 8th place mostly because of the car)

        I think we have the view on Rosberg a bit wrong. He might not be as good as Hamilton, Alonso and a prime Schumacher, but he’s not far off. He’s much better than the likes of Webber, Coulthard, Barrichello and might be on par with drivers like Hakkinen, Montoya and prime Raikkonen. (off topic- I still don’t know where to put Vettel at all)

        1. Bang on, exactly my thoughts. And I don’t know where to put Vettel neither…

  4. With Ericsson as a benchmark, the results this season show how Leclerc is on much higher level than Wehrlein (who is sometimes praised too much) and Nasr who started well but didn’t really show much progress during his two-year F1 career.

  5. Just keep doing what you do Ericsson, try to not run out of excuses, you will need them for next year. It seems impossible for Leclerc to not move up at the end of the season, and Sauber won’t change both drivers at the same time, not now that they seem to be getting things right, it’s not wise to change both drivers and lose your references. Ericsson might not be a brilliant driver or even belong to F1, but he seems consistent with his performances. Next year keeping Marcus and filling the Leclerc`s place with Giovanazzi should be good for Sauber as they move away from the back of the grid.
    I would love to see Sauber next year consistently fighting with FI, McLaren and Haas, not just in one race, but all year.

    1. Well, if Leclerc goes to Ferrari and stashes Giovinazzi or Fuocco at Sauber, they might also want to pick up Grosjean if he is let go by Haas.

  6. Difficult spot for Ericcson. He started off as the better Sauber driver this year, and also got some acclaim from Leclerc when he said Ericcson isn’t an easy opponent to beat. However, as the season progressed and Leclerc found his footing in the sport, Ericsson is just being outclassed.

    Must be a bitter pill to swallow, and even with luck on Marcus’ side, I just don’t see him improving at a rapid enough rate to match Leclerc. The best he can hope for us finishing just behind him in races so it doesn’t damage his reputation too much.

  7. Ericcson was dreadfull his first year (remember when he was beaten in quali by the one-time Loterrer in Spa). But the following years, he improved and seems to be considered by some as decent. But at the end of the day, he’s never been fast, has been dominated by all his (roockie) teammate. He’s just a pay driver. And looking at how many years he’s been in F1, much less deserving than Stroll and Sirotkins.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      26th June 2018, 16:29

      Yea, i thought he was terrible in his first year. Not sure what you mean my dominated by “all” his rookie team mates. Nazr was the only one in 2015 that we could base on a whole season. and even then, Ericsson was far worse at the start of the season, but getting to be better than Nazy near the end. And this was when Sauber were much further behind the other teams compared to the start of the season. They were closer than it looked. Then it clearly showed Ericsson was better the following year.

      If you are basing things on this season, then can we say over these races, Leclerc has “dominated” Ericsson in 5 out of 8 races? More like 4 out of 4 as the margin in Monaco was tiny. It is maybe a bit unfair to judge them in that race. As Leclerc was stuck behind Hartely. But what we did see was that Ericsson caught up very fast from over 10 seconds further back. We got to see that Ericsson could have been faster than he was going, but we don’t know how fast Leclerc could have gone. Leclerc did what he needed to in qualifying though and will have certainly finished ahead of Ericsson, so I would give him that. But he didn’t dominate ericsson in the race.

      I’d say he’s dominated in qualifying over Ericsson. Certainly. But need more time to use that word if we include everything IMO.

    2. I don’t know if he’s less deserving than Stroll. Marcus was nothing exceptional during his first couple of seasons, yet he hasn’t been as off the pace as Stroll has been on many occasions, nor has he been bad enough to delaminate race tyres on a regular basis. It’s too early for us to judge Sirotkin.

      I do agree that he’s among the bottom 3 to 4 drivers on the grid season after season, and he’s in his 5th season already. Would think his time is up at the end of this year, just because there are some really good F2 drivers in Norris, Russel and DeVries who could be on the F1 grid really soon.

  8. Ericcson is at best a good journeyman driver. The guy you pay to not crash the car and maybe get some points. Leclerc is your upcoming star driver. The guy you hope to keep in your team before he goes to one of the big 3 and starts fighting for championships. Ericcson brought a brought a bunch of money with him and helped keep Sauber afloat the past few seasons, and I’m sure they are greatful for that, but as they become more competitive, he will have to go.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      26th June 2018, 16:16

      Thing is, when cars are more compettitive, drivers sometimes change. When the car is bad, Grosjean is terrible, when the car is good, grosjean is often good, sometimes great. If Sauber keeps getting better, There may be a chance Ericsson will be able to show he can do better than he is now. But I guess we just don’t know. Once drivers have been in the sport long, even if they are not great like Ericsson, there is another advantage about him and that isn’t the money. Experience. While it looks like that may not help, it could be the case that behind the scenes, Ericsson has good feedback that the team really appreciate. Can’t be sure though. It does seem like Ericsson is having a bad run at the moment. But that incident on this occasion in practice really didn’t look like it was something he did that was clumsy. And I think missing out on so much running will have hurt him a bit. But still, Leclerc beating him in the way he did still shows Ericsson is struggling at the moment, especially in qualifying.

      But Sauber are no doubt improving. I feel that by the end of the season, if Ericsson gets better in qualifying, he should be able to more regularly be in Q2 and Leclerc repeating his performance from last Saturday again. Alfa Romeo certainly do seem like they have helped sauber out. Or Sauber have just made a better car. Or maybe it could just be to do with having an up to date engine. If Ericsson does get to be at least decent again and Leclerc stays with them for another season, I don’t think they should change the line up really. As Ericsson’s money and experience will be helping a bit.

      I don’t think Ericsson’s dip will continue all season. He started well. There is no doubt that he was good in Bahrain. If drivers look to have a decent patch and go downhill, I think they will be able to turn around later.

  9. This year will be defining for ericsson. its the first time he has a decent car and he has a fantastic teammate. If he manages to score some points and be consistent he might then be able to continue in f1. for sure we have seen drivers with more talent being dropped from f1 but i think he is a quite decent package of skill, experience, dependability when you consider that he brings money and he won’t create any problems with the management. Like a worse Bottas for example!!!

    1. Just to put that into context, what we have here is a driver in his fifth season in F1, who says he might be able to match his rookie team mate (who has just 8 GPs under his belt) if only he could keep his own car out of the walls.

      In other words:
      – He’s being outperformed
      – He keeps crashing
      – Having done 76 races more than (or over 9 times as many races as) his team mate doesn’t even seem to help him compensate for a lack of running (of his own making) at all.

      Forget Max Verstappen, it’s careers like this that prove that the introduction of a points system for the superlicense was fundamentally a good idea.

      1. Ericsson meets the criteria for a Superlicense, because his last 3 years were in F1, which is an automatic 120 points.

        1. @alianora-la-canta, it’s rather ironic that people insisted on a toughening up of the superlicence points system, but a number of the figures that they liked to criticise, such as Maldonado or Jolyon Palmer, would have been able to make it into F1 because they met the minimum criteria.

          Meanwhile, under that same system, over the past 20 years only two champions (Hamilton and Rosberg) would have met the minimum points requirement – Hakkinen, Schumacher, Alonso, Vettel and Button would have all failed to meet the minimum points requirement to enter F1 (it could be noted that, whilst there was no GP2 series at the time of some of those drivers, there was an equivalent class – Formula 3000 – which some of those drivers did race in but did not end up winning).

          There are other drivers on the grid right now, such as Sainz Jr, who would have been excluded from F1 too, whilst others such as Ricciardo and Perez would have only just passed the minimum points threshold (Ricciardo on 45, whilst Perez would have been on the bare minimum of 40).

          Had there been such a points system in place in more recent years, the grid would have ended up looking very different – a lot of current champions would, at the very least, have been forced to wait a lot longer to enter F1, and might not have entered F1 at all, whilst at the same time drivers whom the public deemed “not worthy” of F1 would have been allowed to compete anyway.

  10. The elder of the two saying he have to avoid crashes to keep up with his way younger team mate is funny to say the least. He took five seasons to assimilate what took Leclerc 8 races, is that it?

    Leclerc is destined to better things. Ericsson is already on his place. The car in which Ericsson can barely score a point is more than enough to Charles show how good he is. The deal is done.

    It was much, much faster than i thought it would be,

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