With zero points on the board and no contract in place for next year, time is running out for Marcus Ericsson to prove he is worthy of a 2018 race seat. So what does he need to do to retain his drive with Sauber? And does he think the team can lift themselves back into the midfield anytime soon? We sat down with the Swede for an exclusive chat…
Q: Marcus, with three races remaining you have yet to score in 2017. Can you tell us about the disappointment that this brings?
Marcus Ericsson: It is disappointing. No question. I want to score points and fight for points every race weekend. But this year it has been more difficult than ever with the old Ferrari power unit. The first half of the season was not a walk in the park and we knew that the second half would be even more difficult. The unfortunate thing is that we have not been more competitive in the first half. But it is what it is and we try at every race to maximise what we’ve got. And yes, even if I have zero points I can say that I have had some pretty good races and some good performances.
Q: Since August Sauber have had a new team principal. Can you sum up what has changed since Fred Vasseur came on board?
ME: Fred came in and with his huge knowledge of motorsport – and his strong and straightforward character – he has already made some strong decisions; calling off the Honda deal and renewing the deal with Ferrari. Honda was a huge question mark and Ferrari is a long-time partner, so I think that was not a bad thing for the team – probably. And having made these strong decisions shows that he is only looking for the best possible performance for the team. So I think he is the right person for the team.
Q: It seems Fred is not shy of making drastic decisions?
ME: Exactly – and that is what the team needs.
Q: How difficult is it for a driver to build himself up physically and mentally for a race weekend, only to see it again not lead to anything? How do you maintain motivation?
ME: You said it. F1 has been pretty tough for me. Out of my four years in the sport I only had one year with a competitive car. The other three years I have spent mostly at the back of the field – and that makes it tough, especially mentally. I am a racer looking for wins and not making up the grid and fighting for P18. Yes, that is mentally challenging. But it is also one of my strengths – that I always keep fighting, always try to do the best in the situation I am in and not let the frustration take over. I always see the positive side in things and try to make the most out of it. And believe me, it is so easy to let frustration take over and get negative – especially if you see that you come nowhere near the pace of the others. But as I just said, that is one of my strengths – to keep positive!