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Alfa Romeo Sauber confirm Leclerc and Ericsson

  • Published on 02 Dec 2017 12:26
  • comments 29
  • By: Sam Gale

Alfa Romeo Sauber has confirmed that Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc and current driver Marcus Ericsson will drive for the team next season. The announcement came Alfa Romeo's museum in Italy after a multi-year technical and commercial deal between Alfa Romeo and Sauber was confirmed earlier this week.

Leclerc will be the first champion from the premier feeder series to drive in F1 immediately after winning the championship since Romain Grosjean who joined the Lotus outfit after winning the GP2 series in 2011. It will be Ericsson's fourth year with the team and fifth in F1, scoring nine points along the way.

Leclerc dominated the Formula 2 championship with a 72 point gap to Artem Markelov in second. He took part in several FP1 sessions with Sauber this year, and drove Ferrari's SF70-H at the in-season test at the Hungaroring. Ericsson debuted in F1 back in 2014 with Caterham, before joining Sauber the year after. 

The team also confirmed that Antonio Giovinazzi will take up the role of third driver. The Italian has already raced for the Swiss squad, filling in for Pascal Wehrlein in Australia and China earlier this season. Sauber will also run a revised livery of red and white

Wehrlein, meanwhile, has been left without a seat. The German joined Formula 1 in 2016 with Manor, joining Sauber for the 2017 season. He scored the team's only points this year at Spain and Azerbaijan. The Sauber squad was heavily disadvantaged, running with a year-old Ferrari power unit. However next season it will return to up-to-date power.

 

Sam Gale and Fergal Walsh

Replies (29)

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  • mbmwe36

    Posts: 533

    That livery looks pretty great.

    Good for Ericsson. I read a synopsis on another board which actually made a pretty compelling case for Ericsson being faster than Wehrlein, all things being even. I must admit I haven't personally been that impressed with Ericsson, as he is not very spectacular.
    It'll be interesting to see how he measures up against Leclerc. As impressed as I am with Leclerc, I don't think it's a given that he'll do well in F1 immediately. One of his biggest strengths in F2 seems to be managing his tires, that is not so important in F1 anymore as it was in previous years.

    • + 1
    • Dec 2 2017 - 13:04
    • Yeah it does look sweet. I've always thought of Alfa Romeo as being more of a grey or Rosso Corsa team, but I suppose both those colours are sorta taken, and this livery is sweet. But I will miss the livery they had this year, I found it to be pretty cool. That said, Sauber has had some decent liveries over it's time.

      Really, how? I've never exactly been for or against him, but while he has been pretty consistent, he hasnt ever really proven himself. Then again, he hasnt ever been in a legit good car, so go figure.

      Its best to wait and see. I'll be very impressed if he does what Ocon did, but its by no means something we should expect.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 14:38
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      The following is from someone called Henrik on a different forum.

      "Instead of emotionally fuelled thinking, why not use your head, take into account what has happened on track this (and previous) season and analyse the observations?

      First – There would not have been a Sauber team this season were it not for Ericsson’s sponsors who stepped in and paid outstanding salaries and debts in May last year, then assumed ownership. Thus the only way you will get rid of Ericsson is if Ferrari buy out Longbow Finance – a possibility I pointed out in July – or if Ericsson is moved to a better position.

      Second – It came as something of a surprise when Ocon got the nod ahead of Wehrlein for the Force India seat a year ago and look at Ocon now! This is an indication that Wehrlein too is a very talented driver and would do well in a better team.

      Third – The Wehrlein – Ericsson pairing is the most evenly matched on the grid with the smallest separation of all in average qualifying times, 0.049 seconds over the whole season (Bottas was 0.331 s adrift of Hamilton, Räikkönen 0.275 behind Vettel and the second closest pairing, that of Perez and Ocon, were divided by 0.074 seconds).

      Fourth – Further analysis shows that on at least three occasions, Ericsson’s final Q1 run was ruined by yellow flags when he was well placed to overhaul Wehrlein’s mark.

      Fifth – There are three tracks that above all indicate how good a driver is and those are Monaco, Spa and Suzuka. At least that’s what former drivers say. In Monaco, Wehrlein was 0.117 quicker but at Spa Ericsson was 0.465 s ahead and at Suzuka Ericsson had an advantage of 0.288 s.

      Sixth – If you recall how Rosberg managed to beat Hamilton in qualifying last year – losing one kg of leg muscle to gain 0.04 s over a lap – and figure in that Ericsson at 75 kg against Wehrlein’s 65 kg loses 0.4 seconds per lap, it’s quite clear that of the two, Ericsson is actually the superior, better driver."

      I haven't doublechecked his statements, but nonetheless an interesting perspective.

      • + 1
      • Dec 2 2017 - 15:42
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      BTW Yes! Sauber's 2017 livery was fantastic. Easily one of my favorites this year. If not my favorite actually.

      • + 2
      • Dec 2 2017 - 15:51
    • I can definitely see the poster's points. I dont necessarily agree with them all, but he does bring up a few decent ones. "Second – It came as something of a surprise when Ocon got the nod ahead of Wehrlein for the Force India seat a year ago and look at Ocon now! This is an indication that Wehrlein too is a very talented driver and would do well in a better team." This is certainly a point I can agree on. Wehrlein and Ocon were both performing very similarly, yet one was favoured. A bit odd, TBH.

      Point 5 is up for debate, especially since Ericsson is very familiar with Suzuka since earlier, but nevertheless it does bring up good points.

      4. is true, and I reacted to that at least twice this season. Ericsson was also a bit shafted when it came to actual race strategy.

      I did actually not know the difference in weight was so big. Wehrlein really is skinny. Im not sure how much of a difference 10kg would make, but its certainly a handicap for Ericsson

      • + 1
      • Dec 2 2017 - 16:09
    • Yeah, its easily up there. Sauber, Mercedes, McLaren and Toro Rosso were probably my favourites this year. Though I liked Force India's livery too, nice to see a pink car on the grid.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 16:10
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      2017 was actually a pretty good year as far as livery's go. The only one I wasn't crazy about was HAAS' primer-gray. I would probably also have preferred FI's to be a little more magenta, as I don't particularly care for baby-pink on a racecar. But overall the cars looked good this year.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 17:22
    • I certainly agree with you on that, and yes, the Haas livery didnt do it for me, especially not when they removed the red. Im generally not a pink person, especially not bright pink, but I really dig pink race cars, like the Pinkzilla GT-R in Super GT or the FI.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 18:12
  • I don't get all this Ericsson hate. He hasn't had a chance to prove himself, he's been in the back of the field for his whole career. Happy for Leclerc, can't wait to see him race

    • + 1
    • Dec 2 2017 - 13:08
  • Sorta sad to see Wehrlein go, he showed potential in 2016, but this year he hasnt really showed much of that. But to be fair, for all we know both Wehrlein and Ericsson could be star drivers, but we'd never know as bad as that Sauber was. Sauber will need all of the help they can get next season, because as it stands I doubt they can run for the midfield even with a good unit.

    • + 0
    • Dec 2 2017 - 14:41
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      In many ways I think he was a victim of the incredible hype surrounding him before his debut. The fact that he was touted as the second coming raised people's expectations to a level where it was almost impossible to succeed. Because he's definitely had his moments and overall not been bad.
      I'm fearing the same could happen to Leclerc as it will be hard for him not to disappoint considering all the hype around him.

      • + 2
      • Dec 2 2017 - 15:50
    • Yeah, I agree on that. And its weird, because he wasnt really excelling in DTM. He won mainly due to Mercedes favouring him over it's other cars. I really liked how he pushed that Manor, he was really impressive. Its a bit too common with that nowadays. People expected far too much from Vandoorne aswell, and I only think it hurt him. I really dont know much about Leclerc, but it'll be interesting to see him on the grid. I fear the pressure from Ferrari especially might be a bit harmful here.

      • + 1
      • Dec 2 2017 - 16:13
  • Kean

    Posts: 610

    The hate for Ericsson and simultaneous love for Wehrlein on the Sky sports F1 FB page is mindboggling. If you don’t rate Ericsson high, fine, but how is it possible to rate Ericsson low while rating Wehrlein high? To me the statistics doesn’t support that. They were the closest matched teammates on the grid, the average gap only 0,049 sec. Taking into account that Wehrlein had a weight advantage over Ericsson of about 10kg for most of the season makes the statistic really speak in Ericsson’s favour. In the last 5 races when the weight difference went down to 4kg, Ericsson outqualified Wehrlein 3-2. Basically they were very evenly matched. Sure, Wherlein scored the points, but when he finished 8th there were a lot of cars that retired ahead of him and he managed to do is one stop during the VSC. Basically he got lucky. When he finished 10th, Ericsson let him pass on team orders. I’m not saying that Ericsson is the greatest driver, only that he and Wehrlein are very evenly matched so if you rate one of them high, you sort of can’t rate the other one low.

    • + 0
    • Dec 2 2017 - 16:14
    • I agree. Im not fond of how they omitted details like how Ericsson often underperformed due to strategy choices made by Sauber and such.

      • + 1
      • Dec 2 2017 - 16:36
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      Kean - That's a good point. I actually had no idea they were that close until a few days ago.

      -

      But that is probably the curse of having backing from a big sponsor - You're only there because of the money, and people will cherry pick facts to support that narrative.

      Next year, the Sauber Alfa Romeo should be halfway decent, so it'll be interesting to see what he can do then.

      • + 2
      • Dec 2 2017 - 17:15
  • Savio

    Posts: 145

    What's with Princess Pascal?

    • + 0
    • Dec 2 2017 - 16:47
    • She departed last night, m'lady. Bavaria is so pleasant in winter, and she just had to visit.

      • + 1
      • Dec 2 2017 - 18:14
    • Savio

      Posts: 145

      It's so brilliant that Marcus kicked out Pascal's huge ass

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 18:46
    • I find them both to be okay. Hardly WC material, but decent enough.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 19:01
    • Savio

      Posts: 145

      How intrested are Swedes in formula one?

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 20:23
    • It varies. Most arent, sadly, but Im about as much of a fan of F1 as Randy Pitchford is a liar (and that guy probably even lies in his sleep).

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 21:21
    • Savio

      Posts: 145

      The appearance of Marcus in F1, somehow affected the interest in this sport?

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 21:46
    • Im not sure. TBH, I dont know many people IRL who watch F1, its basically just me and some in my family, and maybe one other guy and my boss. 's about it. AFAIK, there wasnt a huge influx of people who bought the ridiculously priced Viasats channels just to watch Ericsson race, and those who are F1 fans generally just found it to be a nice bonus. I think it would've been different if he was performing better and was in a better team.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 22:05
    • Savio

      Posts: 145

      Next year should be better for Marcus and rest of the team. Sauber will receive new power units and sponsors, but i'm not sure if Marcus defeats Leclerc on track. Probably it's might be the last season for him to show skills because... around the corner is strong contender- Giovinazzi. Can You watch F1 on SkySports without streams or have You another F1 canals in Sweden? it seems to me that Sweden is in general little interest in sport not counting football

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 22:35
    • mbmwe36

      Posts: 533

      I was at function a few years ago where the hosts of Formula 1 in Denmark. They said that interest pretty significantly once Magnussen was promoted by McLaren. And if he retired in a race they basically instantly lost 30% of their audience. I don't know if it's the same in Sweden with Ericsson, but generally Denmark and Sweden are a lot alike so it wouldn't surprise me.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 22:47
    • Savio

      Posts: 145

      I'm not sure, basically Denmark is closer to F1 because around Denmark are a lot of F1 tracks especially Spa. I heard that Copenhagen wants to organize GP in 2020. I though that Marcus is the only factor determining the interest in F1 in Sweden.

      • + 0
      • Dec 2 2017 - 23:11
    • As I mentioned earlier, I wouldnt know, since I know very few who watch F1, but the ones I do know dont tend to get affected by how Ericsson perform: most of them cheer for guys like Alonso or Vettel, and think its a pity when Ericsson retire but watch anyway. Its like with football: we watch even if we arent playing. Hockey, on the other hand...

      The primary factor for interest in sports up here is accessibility, and sadly F1 isnt very accessible up here ever since Viasat bought the rights to it. To watch F1, you need to buy their package, and that thing is pretty expensive (about 52 euro per month). Meaning F1 is far less accessible than e.g Football or Hockey, the favoured sports up here, so there is little reason for most people to get interested.

      And then we pretty much have a case of motorsport interest dying out here in general. A bit weird IMO, since we have a history of racing enthusiasm in Scandinavia, and I have no idea why. From what I hear from my mates, their families didnt use to sit on sundays and watch F1. I think its better in the north, but at least here in the south we dont have much of that anymore.

      • + 0
      • Dec 3 2017 - 00:28
    • Odd, I posted a reply yesterday, but apprently it didnt go up. Well, I'll try to repeat what I said in that post.

      The main problem in Sweden is probably down to accessibility. None of the regular channels air F1 in any form since at least 7 years. If you want the 1 hour shortened version and the quali sessions, you need to get Tv10, and mostly that means buying a package, and if you want the whole deal, you need to buy Viasat's 52 euro/month channel package to get Viasat motor. Most here are not ready to go through the hassle to do that just to get one sport, when the more popular sports football and Hockey are aired on regular channels for no extra charges (TV-license is included in our taxes).

      While Marcus is generally considered to be a nice guy, we mostly dont watch a sport just because there is a Swede in it. Except for Hockey, most jump ship if we dont get up to at least the top 8, we are sorta spoiled there... If Ericsson was a talent driving for a historic team, like Ronnie Peterson was, Im sure people would be far more passionate about it.

      And lastly, motorsport culture up here, at least in southern Sweden, has been dying out for quite a while. I know most of my mates didnt watch F1 and such series with their families. Im sure its better up in the north, but down here few are even casually interested in motor racing. If you compare it to Germany when I lived there during the Schumacher era, its like heaven and earth. Down there, close to everyone had some sort of interest in the series. Then again, we were pretty much living right by Hockenheim back then.

      • + 0
      • Dec 3 2017 - 12:15
    • Savio

      Posts: 145

      Thanks for answer. Sweden is..interesting country. For example i watching F1 not for Ferrari, but because is big chance for Kubica's comeback.

      • + 0
      • Dec 3 2017 - 13:35

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