Marcus Ericsson exclusive interview: ‘I plan to stay in Formula One for a really long time’
Marcus Ericsson is not the luckiest driver on the Formula One grid, with his well-chronicled troubles from debuting with the ill-fated Caterham team to roughing it out at a cash-strapped Sauber.
Marcus Ericsson is not the luckiest driver on the Formula One grid, with his well-chronicled troubles from debuting with the ill-fated Caterham team to roughing it out at a cash-strapped Sauber. Amid all this, Ericsson went through two seasons (2016 and 2017) without scoring any points.
This year, things are definitely looking up for Ericsson. For starters, Sauber's much-publicised association with Alfa Romeo has given him something to cheer about, as has his points finish in Bahrain. Teammate Charles Leclerc finished 6th at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, recording Sauber's best finish since 2015.
From here on, it only seems to be onwards and upwards for Sauber and Ericsson. Firstpost catches up with the Swedish racer for an exclusive interview at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Let's start with something fun! Romain Grosjean blamed you on the radio in Baku for his crash under the Safety Car, what was your response?
I only heard about it afterwards and it was quite interesting because I was quite far away! But it's still funny that my name got out there. I was laughing when I heard about it and saw that people online are [laughing] too, but Romain and I didn't joke about it.
You finally scored points at the Bahrain Grand Prix after two seasons of scoring no points - how do you feel?
First of all, I am very happy with the start to the year. The last two years, especially, have been very difficult for us as a team both financially and development wise. We were very far behind and running at the back of the field makes it difficult to show your skills as a driver. However, Alfa Romeo's arrival this year has been a big step up for us. Scoring points in Bahrain was a great achievement and a great reward for all of us. I go into every weekend thinking I can score points. Even if it hasn't happened in a long time, it doesn't change my approach going into the race weekend. About scoring points, it was not a question of if it would happen, it was a question of when. I am happy to have scored points, but also hungry to do it again.
Has Sauber given you some specific targets for 2018, with a renewal in mind? Do these points scored mean that you are in a better place to discuss a renewal?
About the renewal, I haven't thought so much about it yet. These are early days, so let us see. But certainly, Sauber has a bright future. There are a lot of things happening here and many positive developments with Alfa Romeo.
You went from Caterham to Sauber, a sideways switch. How do you see your career progressing in Formula One?
I have had a difficult initial few years in F1. I started with Caterham - which was probably the weakest team on the grid. They didn't even finish the season because they went bankrupt! In my first year with Sauber, I had some good results there but then also Sauber was also going through difficult times. It is difficult as a driver to be in teams that are struggling financially because it is hard to show what you can do. I'm glad that this year I get to show that more with a more competitive car and team. It's been a difficult start to my Formula One career but I am planning to stay here for a long time - so hopefully I can change that!
We love Sauber and the history it represents in Formula 1. But after having spent four seasons with Sauber, how do you ensure that you keep growing from season to season?
I feel like I have learnt a lot and grown a lot as a driver over the years and made some big improvements in myself. I think it is important to look at yourself critically because that's how you learn. I always try to analyse my performances, the way I am driving and finding my improvement areas. I am trying to be very honest with myself. I also work very hard with myself and the team.
We love Sauber and what it brings to the grid. However, which other team on the grid would you like to drive for?
I think like all other drivers - Ferrari. With the history that they have, it is a very legendary team in Formula One so probably that's why I have some special feelings towards them. Personally, I am very proud to represent Alfa Romeo now - it is a special brand with a lot of passion behind it.
As you worked your way up the racing ladder before making it here, is this how you imagined the Formula 1 dream?
It's always hard to imagine what the Formula One dream is like from the outside. But yes, I am living my dream. That said, it's very different to what people think it's like. People see what we do on track but not how hard we work off track. I travel 260-270 days per year, for example. It is a tough life but I love every second of it.
After you made it to Formula One, what was the one aspect of the sport that surprised you?
Formula One absolutely changes your world. You get recognised and you become a public person in a very different way. This is something you cannot prepare for. You have to just handle and accept it.
Sauber has been churning out some good results this season. Does that motivate you or is there now an added pressure of expectations?
For sure there are expectations but that is part of the job. It's good that the pressure is there! This pressure keeps me on top of my game. I need to be able to deliver under pressure, that is my job!
Final thoughts for this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix?
This is a race that I always enjoy and a track that I am strong at. This is the first European race of the season so a lot of Swedish fans have come to support me. I am looking forward to it!