Marcus Ericsson celebrates “amazing” debut podium in Detroit

by Jordan Groves

After securing his first podium finish in the NTT IndyCar Series, Marcus Ericsson has given thanks to his Arrow Schmidt Peterson team for getting him onto a podium for the first time since 2013. Ericsson took a superb second-place finish in the Sunday race of the 2019 Detroit Grand Prix, finishing just under two-seconds off-of race winner and reigning champion, Scott Dixon.

The first race of the Detroit Grand Prix weekend was an extraordinary tough affair for Ericsson. Not only was it the Swedish drivers first taste of the Belle Isle Street Circuit – notoriously one of the most difficult and physical tracks on the schedule – but it was also a wet race. It was Ericsson’s first experience of the wet Firestone IndyCar tyres, having missed out on the wet stages of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after crashing early on in the race.

Ericsson started fifteenth in the race and successfully navigated his way through the treacherous conditions to make it to his one and only pit-stop to switch onto the dry tyres. As the race drew to its conclusion, Ericsson had moved up into twelfth place, but due to the track being very wet off of the racing line, it was difficult for Marcus, or any of the other drivers in the field, to make a pass. He would cross the line to take twelfth place, with the Swedish driver stating post-race that he was happy with his “decent race” and the competitiveness of his car.

“I thought it was a decent race,” Ericsson said on Saturday, “Obviously, it was my first experience on these wet Firestone tyres, because I missed out on them that part of the race in Indy, so I had zero previous experience [with them]. It made the first part of the race a bit difficult to sort of get up to speed in the wet, but I thought when I got going, we were looking quite strong towards the end of the wet tyre stint.

“In the damp conditions on the slicks [primary Firestone tyres], we were quite competitive. We were making up a few positions, picking off a few guys in the Arrow car and moving up the field. Of course, in conditions like that, it’s difficult to make moves because the track was wet off [race] line. We couldn’t really progress more than that, but I think it’s all part of the learning curve. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

Credit: James Black / Courtesy of IndyCar

For the second race of the weekend on Sunday, Ericsson would qualify exactly where he finished on Saturday; twelfth place. After largely avoiding the melee of the lap one pile-up at turn three, Ericsson would quietly go about his race and would ultimately find himself right at the sharp end of the order thanks to an alternate tyre strategy and being able to keep out of trouble whilst those around him faltered.

As the race came toward its end, Ericsson was running in an utterly fantastic second-place. He was slowly but surely catching the race-leader, Scott Dixon, but not by enough to have caught him by the end of the race. Instead, attention was on the man in third-place, Will Power, who was gaining ground on Ericsson all the time.

However, the potential battle for second-place would be interrupted before it even began due to a caution and a subsequent red flag after a crash for Ericsson’s fellow countryman, Felix Rosenqvist, with just six laps remaining. The ensuing delay whilst the track was cleared built the tension for what would be a three-lap shootout to end the race.

Despite all the pressure of the situation, Ericsson did not crack when the race got back underway. Whilst he was not able to take the fight to Dixon, his restart was more than good enough to get him out of the firing range of Power. In the end, Dixon would cross the line to take the victory, with Ericsson coming home in a superb second-place; just under two seconds off of Scott.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

The result would, of course, be Ericsson’s first podium in the NTT IndyCar Series and it would also be Arrow Schmidt Peterson’s best race result of the season so far.

Whilst Ericsson’s team-mate, James Hinchcliffe, currently sits nine positions higher than Marcus in the standings with a much more consistent run of results so far; the more impressive pace has usually come from Ericsson during the race weekend. Ericsson has foreshadowed a great result numerous times in the season so far, most notably at the Circuit of the Americas where he scythed his way through the order and into the top five before a pit-lane penalty dropped him back to fifteenth.

After finally sealing the deal on a strong race result on Sunday, Ericsson would give thanks to his team for their hard work throughout their bad luck so far this season. He began by hailing the result as “amazing”, as it was his first trip to a podium since racing in the GP2 Series at Abu Dhabi in 2013.

“It was amazing, my first podium since 2013 and you just have to thank the whole team at Arrow SPM.” Ericsson said on Sunday, “They work so hard all year and we had so much bad luck, and I’ve done mistakes when we’ve been looking really good. So, to finally get a result like this and be on the podium, I think is a great reward for all of the hard work. Now, I think we can build on this.”

Ericsson will be back on track this weekend with the rest of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series field in the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will take place under the lights on Saturday, June 8.

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