Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team‘s Marcus Ericsson believes the “hype” surrounding former team-mate Pascal Wehrlein helped him, but says Formula 1 still hasn’t realised what he’s really capable of.
Wehrlein scored all of the Swiss team’s five points in the 2017 Formula 1 season, but yet still misses out on a drive, compare to Ericsson who remains with the team for 2018, partnering alongside FIA Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc.
Wehrlein arrived at Sauber as a Mercedes protege who was tipped to become Nico Rosberg‘s replacement at Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, after an impressive first year at Manor Racing. The German-Mauritian driver also won the 2015 DTM title before his arrival into F1.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, Ericsson says that competing against Wehrlein boosted him and compared him to another former team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi, who raced with Ericcson at Caterham F1 in 2014.
“I still feel like I’m developing as a driver and I’ve become better and better,” said Ericsson.
“My first year with Kamui was really tough, Kamui had a lot of experience and was a really good driver.”
“But I think Pascal is a super-talented driver and it’s been really good for me to have him as a team-mate. With all the hype that’s been around him being a Mercedes junior it’s been perfect for me to have him as a benchmark.”
“If you look at the statistics this year, if you take the average between team-mates we’re the closest ones on the grid. I think that says quite a lot and that’s been good for me.”
Sauber decided to keep on Ericsson for a fourth season in 2018, instead of selecting Scuderia Ferrari‘s Antonio Giovinazzi, who drove for the Swiss team in Australia and China as a stand in for Wehrlein.
Ericsson believes that towards the end of the season, he was outperforming Wehrlein.
“I think performance-wise it’s been quite OK, especially the last part I think has been better than OK – it’s been really good,”
“But standing on zero points is obviously a big disappointment because in the end it’s points that count and obviously I haven’t scored any.”
“So result-wise, it’s been not what I wanted but there have been some good races.”
Ericsson continued saying he was looking for a move with midfield teams, but was unsuccessful. The Swede believes that he needs to be a in a decent car to show what he can really do in the sport.
“The problem is when you’re driving for a team that’s at the back of the grid it’s really difficult to impress people and to show what you can do.”
“I need to be in a car that’s regularly in the top 10 and then you can show your skills.”