Marcus Ericsson admitted that he knew 2017 was going to be a difficult season before it even began thanks to the Sauber F1 Team using a year-old Ferrari power unit, but the Swede was delighted with how the team rebounded, with chassis development edging them closer to the pack across the final races of the season.
Ericsson was the only full-time driver on the grid not to score points, with a pair of eleventh place finishes in Spain and Azerbaijan his best results of the season, while team-mate Pascal Wehrlein could only score five points as Sauber struggled, particularly across the mid-point of the season as the lack of engine development left the Hinwil-based team adrift of the pack.
However, despite the possibility of the team switching their focus to 2018 and their increased partnership with Ferrari, the team back in the factory continued their development of the C36 chassis, and they moved themselves closer to the midfield pack, and they almost made it through to Q2 in three of the final four races of the season.
“[When] I heard the news Sauber was going to use the old PU [in 2017]… we knew it was not going to be good,” said Ericsson. “Everyone could see what happened with Toro Rosso [in 2016].
“You still have to try and look at it in a more positive way and say ‘we’ll focus more on the chassis side’ and we did, but for sure it’s a big handicap. That’s why also I think with that in mind I’ve been quite impressed with the team and at the factory with the way we’ve been able to keep pushing and not give up.
“After the summer break it looked a disaster really, we were so far off the next car, over a second off per lap, and it was looking really, really bad. It would have been easy to give up completely and just think about next year for the team but they still kept pushing, in the factory they kept developing and bringing new stuff to the track.
“The last three or four weekends we were actually in the mix again and out-qualified people and out-raced people fair and square. That’s a big thing for the team and shows the team has a lot of quality both on track but also at the factory.”