Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Monza, 2018

2018 F1 driver rankings #16: Ericsson

2018 F1 season review

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In years to come, when we’ve got the full measure of how bright a talent Charles Leclerc genuinely is, we may look back on Marcus Ericsson’s 2018 campaign more favourably. As it is, he took a sound beating from his team mate in 2018, and it ended up costing him his drive.

The year began promisingly for Ericsson. He worked hard in the gym during the off-season, shedding vital kilos to make up for the inevitable handicap of being one of the taller drivers. Sauber made a huge leap in performance and Ericsson was the first to hint at that potential, out-racing the Mercedes customers to ninth in Bahrain for the team’s first points since 2016.

Leclerc fired a warning shot in China, however, where Ericsson qualified behind his team mate for the first time, and by almost half a second. Which Ericsson prevailed in the race again, Leclerc’s qualifying performance set the tone for what was to follow.

Ericsson he only beat his team mate twice more on a Saturday over the rest of the season. His average margin of defeat over the course of the year, even after adjusting for unrepresentative results, was over four-tenths of a second – the worst in the field.

Marcus Ericsson

Beat team mate in qualifying4/21
Beat team mate in race4/13
Races finished17/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate256/920
Qualifying margin+0.431 (adjusted)

As Leclerc’s star rose, Ericsson got ragged. He hit the wall in Canada during practice and crashed out of the British Grand Prix when he fumbled his DRS de-activation going through Abbey. (An even bigger crash, at Monza, was caused by DRS failure.)

Ericsson had no answer for Leclerc’s superior touch on the softer end of Pirelli’s tyre allocation, which hurt him more over the balance of the season. He put his experience to good use in Germany, grabbing points while Leclerc spun in the rain-hit race, but this went against the run of play.

He crashed again in Japan, by which time the team had announced Antonio Giovinazzi as their second driver for next year, leaving Ericsson without a drive. Having contributed less than one-fifth of the team’s points total, that could hardly be described as unfair.

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Over to you

Fared well against Leclerc sometimes, but had far too many crashes and spins.

What’s your verdict on Marcus Ericsson’s 2018 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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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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41 comments on “2018 F1 driver rankings #16: Ericsson”

  1. Hard to judge since it’s seems like LeClerc has had a big Ferrari input advantage all year (or after Baku really). Like Ericsson said himself after Abu Dhabi quali: “Charles was purple in the two first sectors, that’s interesting.”
    Rumors and speculations has been popping up all year.

    That being said, he hasn’t been good enough this year, but with a fair game on his hand the stats would not be as bad. But F1 is not fair game. No one expects that.

    1. It’s Leclerc, not LeClerc (Uppercase in a middle of a name doesn’t exist in French ^^)

    2. He hasnt been good enough any season. He does have good performances but he has never been consistent which is why he is overdue in F1.

      As a fan i wanted to see him with the new weight rules but you cant get everything.

    3. True Rambo speak ;)

  2. Vandoorne & Alonso one-two in the Driver rankings becoming ever more likely

    1. It would be pretty hard to argue a top 5 for one of you place the other last.

      I think Alonso will be 2nd on the rankings now. And especially his Brazilian and French GP will be carefully forgotten

      1. I think with Alonso, whenever he has a bad race, it’s because the car is awful, and whenever he has a good race, he’s the GOAT. Mind, he is obviously a fantastic driver and deserves to be placed highly on the list, but you are right that any poor races he has are ignored.

        1. At least he has good races which i fear some of the drivers that will end up in top 10 never had.

  3. This is always my favourite series of the year as I love seeing how different people rate the drivers’ seasons.

    I’ve seen many people appealing that Vandoorne deserves to be in the bottom 5 (or even last); I think I had him 18th. It’s all subjective though and it can’t be ignored how bad the McLaren was and how good Alonso is. I’d imagine he’ll be appearing next.

    Ericsson surprised me this year and it can be argued that he is criminally underrated. Both Wehrlein and Leclerc came to the team highly rated; Ericsson has resisted destruction by both of them. There’s no question he came out second best, but it wasn’t the demolition most expected. He’s run his course in Formula One, but worse drivers than him remain on the grid for 2019.

    1. If we are going to weigh in how bad the McLaren was, better put in that equation how much worse the Williams was, and not forget who spent most of the season fighting with the two Williams.

      Yes this is subjective, but Vandoorne was outright slow throughout the year. Still will be in the top 15, and I’m pretty sure the argument will be based on the lack of high profile mistakes, but how can you make mistakes when driving so far off the pace?

      It’s just ridiculous at this point if you ask me

      1. @johnmilk – fair points and reasonably argued. Of course this is the RaceFans Driver Rankings, not the Joao Driver Rankings and everyone is entitled to their opinions. For what it’s worth, I agree that Vandoorne is “too high” for my liking in this one.

        That said, I’d actually argue that the McLaren was the worst car on the grid for much of the season. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I rate Stroll very poorly and truly believe that someone like Alonso would have scored good, regular points in the Williams (as he did in the McLaren). The Williams was clearly not good, but their drivers made it look even worse.

        1. @ben-n “Joao Driver Rankings ” that would be pretty awesome though, you have to agree.

          I will have to disagree with you, the McLaren was clearly a better car throughout the season than the Williams and the STR, and at the start it was on par with the FI (they did again an excellent in season development, despite their financial situation), plus the Haas were busy shooting their own feet, it is therefore clear to me that Vandoorne should have scored plenty more points, especially at the start.

          And no, that Williams wasn’t points worthy

          1. I thought we already had a Joao Driver Ranking (or actually 2) ;)
            It’s a pity we cannot discuss it there; I might have argued how Vettel (strong start poor mid/finish) should not outscore Alonso.
            To me the McLaren was the worst package (the chassis might’ve been better than the Williams, but all undone by the PU). And even when focussing all on race pace (hence Vandoorne in 20th every race) they did just scramble to stay on pace with the Williams and (often) STR during the races.

          2. damn that’s a good ranking @coldfly

            The McLaren stalled throughout the year, never really developed. But at the start was certainly better than the STR, Williams, Sauber and on par with the FI. Haas and Renault had always an advantage, but the first were busy wasting points. As the season progressed the Sauber improved and the FI improved massively, still the McLaren felt better than the other two remaining teams until the end. Vandoorne should have performed much better until at least mid-season, but he didn’t (it was also around here, Hungary, that Alonso stopped caring). McLaren had the same PU than Renault and RBR, and look where they finished, so certainly blaming the PU is behind us at this point right? Even though they still have the 3rd best, or if you prefer the 2nd worst

          3. btw, I read again my ranking, and I laughed more than I should, so my narcissism isn’t getting better

          4. @coldfly I never thought about it, but yes, its weird to have a forum that have no discussion. Its feel like I’m one of this site author there…

          5. they still have the 3rd best, or if you prefer the 2nd worst

            I endearingly rate Renault’s PU as the midfield runner-up ;)

    2. @ben-n
      Ericsson may have been a bit underrated but there was always rumours he had better equipment at Sauber- I think Pascal was very vocal on this.

      As we know in F1 we don’t get many surprises and the little info leaks are usually true- in fact the only surprise we all got this year was Daniel to Renault!! That got us all!!

      I hope he has a great season next year

  4. I think Keith forgot Stoffel to put in ranking.He only started with 19 drivers.

    This is Marcus best season in F1. He had spins and crhashes but he had great overtakes and fighting for positions. Great qualifying too.

    1. Scenes when he suddenly gets to Hamilton being #2 and is like … damn … I really messed this up, and has to try to justify having the Stoff 1st.

      1. Keith’s justification – “Because obviously.”

  5. I am quite happy seeing Vandoorne not yet mentioned (although I expect him at 15). Ericsson didn’t embarrass himself by any means, but this feels about right.

    1. I’m happy too, for comedy reasons

  6. Ok really…how much did Vandoorne pay you? :P

  7. Maybe 16th is deserved for Ericsson. To me he is a clear bottom 5 performer, but this was his best (least bad) season (I still struggle to find the correct order amongst the bottom 5).
    I know he has been #15 in this ranking in 2016, but was too flattering IMO.

    With all the Stroll dislikers here I’m probably alone in my opinion that of the 2018 class Ericsson is the one who will be least missed (performance & years to prove yourself).

  8. It’s tricky to rank the lower end of the field, especially this year where it feels like we had an abundance of mediocre performances. so far keith’s list passes the sense check (we must all agree that we will never all 100% agree!), although I think i would have put sirotkin ahead of both stroll and hartley. I might have grosjean ahead of vandoorne, but it depends on how you subjectively rank errors (or indeed lack of errors); grosjean’s personal errors really hurt his points tally so I guess they should be viewed harshly.

  9. I can see how he kept his drive so long and brought funding. A guy you can easily warm to who handled himself very well through very thin and being bopped by team mates. Some encouraging results this season, that with an MS or even Rosberg obsessiveness towards preparation, could get some great results in Indy.

    1. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how he gets on in Indycar. I think he was always one of the slower drivers but I don’t think he’s ever been the worst driver – and I think he’s probably one of the most talented drivers in the field, just a question as to how quickly he adapts. Can’t wait to see the Swede battle between himself and Rosenqvist.

      1. He’ll definitely be amongst the best in Indy. Im happy for him he hasn’t had to swallow his pride and go to Formula Eek. Be like when you come off the motorway (autobahn) having driven at 110mph all afternoon. You feel you are walking.

  10. Guys, it’s fine – Kieth obviously just forgot Vandoorne was even on the grid, just like 90% of the audience.

  11. I suspect Leclerc has an edge provided by Ferrari, maybe he had it too with Prema in F2, something similar to Giovinazzi against Gasly, it was clear to me that the italian team was not being fair with the Redbull driver, but the guy is so good he was able to be champion despite of it, well I think Sauber it’s not being fair with Marcus Ericsson, he was so much better than Leclerc at the beginning and suddenly the tables turned overnight, to me Leclerc is a great driver but a bit overrated, if Ferrari is fair with both drivers Vettel should defeat him, but we know f1 is not a fair game, time will tell if I am wrong.

  12. I read the article and thought – “that write up would fit with any of the rankings 18 through 20….”.

    That Sauber was regularly in Q3 and points at the hands of Leclerc from mid season on. Marcus though, he didn’t seem to have it in him this year, despite raising his game and having the best season he’s had for a while.

    That said, I appreciate Ericsson and regularly follow his performance on race weekends. He always seems to behave like a gentleman and I wish him well next year. I hope he can perform well in Indycar.

  13. Lets not forget there are four categories in F1
    F1A= Mercedes, Ferrari
    F1B= Redbull
    F1C= Renault, Haas, Force India
    F1D= McLaren, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Williams
    Best drivers per categorie
    F1A= HAMILTON 408pts
    F1B= VERSTAPPEN 249 pts
    F1C= HULKENBERG 69 pts
    F1D= ALONSO 50 pts
    Worst drivers per categorie
    F1A= BOTTAS 247
    F1B= RICCIARDO 170
    F1C= GROSJEAN 37

    My list
    1. HAM
    2. VER
    3. VET
    4. RAI
    5. ALO
    6. HUL
    7. RIC
    8. LEC
    9. PER
    10. MAG
    11. OCO
    12. GAS
    13. SAI
    14. BOT
    15. ERI
    16. VAN
    17. GRO
    18. HAR
    19. STR
    20. SIR

    1. Verstappen and vettel made too many mistakes to be that far ahead in the ranking, bottas is probably slightly too low, the williams car has been overrated, also I would put red bull in the category A and cut to only 3 categories, ok they were lacking in qualifying, but they had nothing to envy to the top 2 teams more often than not in the races, which is when it matters the most.

    2. I like this summary format, but not the conclusion. It is a great framework for thinking about the drivers. But I wouldn’t rely on just points.

      I largely agree with @esploratore. Verstappen’s Red Bull could be put in F1A, but Riccardo’s car was in a sad gremlin infested no-mans land between F1A and F1B.

      I’d put at least Alonso and the F1C champ, probably Hulk, ahead of non-champ F1A drivers. (I say probably Hulk because I haven’t been able to study the midfield as carefully this year)

  14. Although he could match or even outperform/score Leclerc at times, he still wasn’t really a match for him over, the course of the season.

  15. What was the average qualifying difference between Leclerc and Ericsson? I would expect it to be 0.4-0.5 seconds which is staggering but I could be wrong. I’ve never viewed Ericsson as a superquick F1 driver but Leclerc just seemed so much faster. It was strange to see such a disparity between a seasoned driver and a rookie. Even Verstappen didn’t look much better than Sainz at Toro Rosso when they were both rookies. I guess we’ll find out next year if Leclerc is that fast or if he was just test driving a Ferrari at Sauber.

    Obviously Charles was heading to Ferrari and Sauber was on life support with its future largely dependent on the Ferrari engines so it’s easy to speculate.

    1. Purple sectors ( the straight ones ) in Abu Dabi Qualifying for Leclerc and Ericsson not even close to that…Purple…go figure. Ferrari have all power, influence, money and reason to put some sweet-mode in their golden boy’s engine. Boost him, his value, the Ferrari driving-academy and atleast one of the Alfa Romeo Saubers. Makes all sence and i guess not so strange when it comes to F1 in general and Ferrari especially. No shadow shall fall on Leclerc, on contruary he have earned that special treatment due to good results earlier and in F1. As a sport it doesnt look nice, But thats how big buisness F1 works. I dont think for a second that it has bin a fair fight between Leclerc and Ericsson…no way. Thats why you should at Ericssons season in a different light.

  16. I’d rather have an affable Ericsson on the grid than an arrogant Stroll, considering their driving is of little consequence in the worst cars.

    1. @major-dev, interestingly during interviews Stroll doesn’t come across as arrogant at all.

  17. With Leclerc doin purple sectors in Qualify Abu Dabi ( sectors with pretty much only straights ) and Ericsson not even close… then Its so obvious that Ferrari have given their golden boy some sweet-mode compare to his teammate. If you take all fridays FP1, FP2 they where pretty close all year. But come saturday and Its half a second just like that! Come Raceday and Ericsson even outpaced him more than often despite worse grundposition. Ferrari has all the power, knowledge and resources to give Leclerc the upper hand set-up/enginewise, and why shouldnt they? They have invested hard in him and want to boost his confidence, the Ferrari-academy and his value in general. Its F1 in general and Ferrari Especially! And hes bin proven worth it, doin the result hes bin doing. But i dont think for a second that they have had the same per-conditions. And i think thats why Ericsson pressed himself ( in frustration ) to many of those crashes and off-road runnings he did this year ( cant say Its bin that many compare to others ). And it sure didnt helped him improve in quali. Ericsson just didnt get a fair chance and when you consider that, then i think he did much better this year than most people think.

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