Sauber confirm Leclerc & Ericsson, as Alfa Romeo livery revealed

Formula One

Reigning Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc will race alongside Marcus Ericsson at Sauber next season. The Ferrari Driver Academy member takes over from Pascal Wehrlein, with Antonio Giovinazzi to serve as third driver for 2018.

The line-up was announced at a special press event in Milan, Italy on Saturday, where the team revealed further details of their new title sponsorship deal with Alfa Romeo, including a revised red and white livery concept for next season’s car.

Leclerc has risen rapidly through the single-seater ranks, winning the GP3 title last year before his F1 championship triumph this season. He first tested with Sauber’s engine suppliers Ferrari in 2016, as well as participating in four F1 Friday practice sessions with the Ferrari-powered Haas squad. This season he tested with both Ferrari and Sauber, and enjoyed another four F1 practice outings with the latter.

“I am very happy to be entering Formula One in 2018,” said the 20-year-old from Monaco. “First and foremost, I would like to thank Ferrari for their support. I would also like to thank Sauber for their trust and confidence in me as a driver, and look forward to joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming season.

“It was a great experience to drive a few FP1 sessions and tyre tests for the Sauber F1 Team in 2017, during which the team welcomed me straight away. It is a great working environment, and I already feel confident and comfortable here. In 2018, my aim will be to gain more experience in Formula One, and to bring as much value to the team as possible in return.”

For Ericssson, 2018 will mark his fifth season in F1 and his fourth with Sauber. The 27-year-old Swede has scored nine points with the Swiss team in that time.

“First of all, I would like to congratulate the team on the new partnership with Alfa Romeo,” commented Ericsson. “It is a great honour for me to be driving for this team in 2018, and I am excited and proud to be part of this promising journey. I am confident that I can add to the knowledge and experience of the team.

“This winter is going to be very busy, and it will be important to push the development of the car in order to have a good start to the season. I am optimistic, that 2018 can be a big step and a good chance for us to move up in the field.”

Team principal Frederic Vasseur added: “With Marcus and Charles, we have a strong driver duo for the debut season of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team. Marcus is an experienced Formula One driver, who knows the procedures and the team well, after having worked together for the past 3 years. He is a team player, and has a very positive attitude.

“Charles has proven his talent in several racing series, most recently winning the Formula 2 World Championship title. He had the chance to drive in four FP1 sessions and two tyre tests for us this season, and convinced the team with his professionalism and charisma. I look forward to going into 2018 with this driver pairing, and I am convinced that they will complement each other very well.”

Giovinazzi, who served as Ferrari’s third driver in 2017, has two Sauber race outings to his name, the Italian having stood in for the injured Wehrlein at this season’s two opening rounds, with a best finish of 12th in Australia. He will take part in six FP1 sessions for the team in 2018, having completed seven with Haas this year.



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