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Important not to dwell on Sauber situation - Ericsson Q&A

10 Jun 2016

Sauber have had a tough start to the 2016 season - a situation that wasn't exactly helped by Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr colliding with each other while racing for position in Monaco. The Swede admits to having frustrations both with that incident and the team's form as a whole - but he says the key is to remain positive, particularly as there are encouraging developments on the horizon...

Q: Marcus, we've all seen the images of one Sauber taking out the other in Monaco. Can you talk us through how that all happened?

Marcus Ericsson: Well, I was one of the first to pit for the slick tyres and therefore had quite strong pace. I caught up with Felipe (Nasr). I felt a lot faster than him and therefore asked the team for a swap in positions – but obviously Felipe didn't want to do that. For a number of laps the team told me that we would swap, but nothing happened. In the end I made the decision that I will make my own move. I gave it a go at Rascasse, where I had passed Valtteri Bottas earlier in the race – and that move worked out fine. I thought it would be a good place to try again, but obviously it didn't work out the way I planned it. That was the disappointing end to it – and that was my Monaco experience!

Q: Was it a surprise that Felipe didn't listen to the pit wall? When Mercedes asked Nico Rosberg to move aside for Lewis Hamilton, for example, he reacted immediately...

ME: I think it is up to him to give a satisfying explanation. I was doing my race and was obviously losing time behind him – that was my situation. Surprised? I was hoping to get past him, that's for sure.

Q: Is it fair to say that the 2016 season has been a bit of a nightmare for Sauber so far? What are the biggest issues?

ME: Yes, not an easy one. We are further back than we wanted to be. We were hoping to fight for points, but we do not have the speed to do that – and that is disappointing. I think it is no secret that we had issues on the financial side, and that means we have not been able to update the car as we wanted, to be able to keep up with the others. I think that has basically been the main issue. Right now we have largely the same car that we started the year with, without any updates - and that makes it so terribly difficult to fight for positions. We are working hard to get into a better position, and I know that updates are on their way. I'm not sure when, but there is definitely something coming. When we get that I hope we can be a bit more competitive.

Q: Your team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said that it will probably take a bit more time – but then the full potential of the car will show. That was about one month ago. Is there something new this weekend?

ME: No, not really. And flyaway races are really never a good place to bring any big things. So we have to maximise what we have this weekend. We have to stay focused and positive – that's our role! Whenever there is a chance we have to be there and grab it. Yes, we are struggling – but it is also important not to get negative about it.

Q: If you see what Toro Rosso are doing with the 2015 Ferrari engine, are you satisfied with their 2016 version?

ME: I think they have made a step forward – and the update we got in Barcelona was another step again. But I also do believe that Mercedes is still a step ahead of them.

Q: You and team mate Felipe Nasr joined the team last year with high hopes, as Sauber have a long history in F1 and somehow always bounce back. And even in a rather difficult 2015 season you scored points five times. So what is left of those high hopes? Is 2016 even harder than 2015?

ME: Yes, it is. Last year – or to be more precise in the first half of the year – we were competitive. But then in the second half of 2015 we started to struggle to keep up, and that has not changed ever since. And that is very disappointing as I feel that I have developed a lot as a driver. I feel I am performing on a very good level this year and am very happy with the steps that I have taken – so not being able to get close to points is indeed frustrating. Hopefully it will get better in the second half of 2016, when we will have the update.

Q: What is the most bitter pill to swallow when at the back of the grid? Is it the blow to your reputation? The lack of adrenaline in not fighting for victory?

ME: Ha, even though we are further back we still have some fun races! We have been fighting hard with the two Manors and the Renaults and sometimes even with Haas. So yes, fun races – even though it is no secret that you want that to happen ten places higher up on the grid. But I enjoy the racing a lot. 

Q: There have been rumours that your backer – the Rausing group – could buy out Sauber. Can you shed any light on the situation?

ME: To be honest I am not involved in these discussions. I am only the driver!

Q: There is a saying that a driver is only as good as his last result. How do you plan to leave Montreal on Sunday?

ME: It is one of the better tracks of the season, fun to drive – high speed and hard braking! From my perspective my guess is that under normal circumstances we will be fighting where we have been so far, but the good thing with Montreal is that something can always happen. The conditions sometimes change dramatically, and there is a serious chance for rain on Sunday afternoon. On top of that this track has corners where people crash out frequently. Having all that in mind, the plan is to keep out of contact with the walls or other cars – and that could give us a serious chance to go for points. Even if we only get one, that would be very welcome!