Marcus Ericsson admits that he feels "sad" to be missing out on Sauber's resurgence back up the Formula 1 pecking order. After two years competing at the back of the field, the Hinwil squad made big gains in 2018, finishing the season in eighth place.
The team started the year on the back foot but successfully developed the C37 throughout the season. In the final three races, Ericsson's teammate Charles Leclerc bagged three seventh-placed finishes, demonstrating the pace and progression of the team.
Having joined Sauber in 2015, the Swede raced four seasons for the team. Earlier this year, Sauber announced that Antonio Giovinazzo would partner Kimi Raikkonen in 2019, while Ericsson would handle the role of its third driver.
"That’s the disappointing part, not being able to continue it," Ericsson said. "I’ve been here throughout all the bad times, and then now through the good times this year, and I feel very much part of the journey with the team, with everything that’s been happening.
"That’s why it’s sad not to continue with that, because now it really feels like we’re starting to hit out stride as a team and we really starting to fight higher up the field. [It] would have been nice to continue that for next year, but that’s the way it is. I’m still proud of what I’ve done and I feel I’ve been very much part of what the team has become today."
Following his F1 axe, Ericsson struck up a deal with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport to race for it in IndyCar next year. Although he will still have a role in F1, the 29-year-old says that his main focus will be on the North-American series.
"We need to still sit down after the season and discuss that as I made it very clear that I want to focus 100 percent on a racing programme for 2019, and when I had this IndyCar option I wanted to go all in on that," Ericsson said.
"I’m still happy to be able to keep a connection to the team, but I need to sit down with the team and see exactly what I will do or not do and what my role will be. But for sure, 110 percent focus needs to be on IndyCar, otherwise there’s no point going there if you’re not 100 percent committed for it."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing