Marcus Ericsson says he finally has the chance this year to show what he can do in Formula 1, and feels that no one noticed last year when he was putting in strong performances in the Sauber.
“It’s been two difficult years, especially last year when we were quite far off anyone else for quite a long time. This year, it’s clear what our goal is, and that’s to fight in the midfield and for points again,” he said.
“We’ve had a really good winter with a lot of things happening; Alfa Romeo coming into the team is very, very positive. We expect to make a good step forward, but we’ll have to wait and see how much of that step we’ve already taken, and then we need to work hard with what we’ve got.
Last season, Ericsson and Wehrlein were the most evenly matched teammates in terms of performance on the grid, but the Swede feels that went largely unnoticed.
“I think it’s always difficult when you’re at the back of the field, because even if you have a great weekend, and do a great quali and a great race, that means maybe P17 in quali and P15 in the race, no one notices that, and that’s difficult,” he said.
“I’m certain that this is my year. I’ve had a tough F1 career; being in the worst car more or less every year, it’s hard to show what I can do.
“I had Pascal [Wehrlein] up against me last year, and he was a candidate for the Mercedes seat. We were very close in terms of performance, but I need a car to show that in the points as well.”
With Wehrlein leaving Sauber at the end of last season, Ericsson has a new teammate for 2018, and arguably his toughest one yet. Charles Leclerc comes highly rated after winning the GP3 and GP2 titles back-to-back, but Ericsson says he is ready for the challenge.
“I think cv-wise, I think Charles is probably the best [teammate] I’ve ever had. I’ve had great teammates in my years in F1, very good drivers, but Charles has an outstanding record in junior formulas, so that means I have to step up even more,” he said.
“I feel ready for that because I’ve been driving quite a few years now, and I felt like I’ve developed a lot. Charles is a great driver and a great talent, but I’m the experienced one, and I’ve been in the team for many years now.
“I need to be that leader to help the team point in the right direction. I’m ready to be that leader, and I believe I will show it this year.”
Images courtesy: Octane Photographic