Marcus Ericsson interviewed by ŚwiatWyścigów.pl
New season, new hopes. The Sauber Formula One team went though quite a transformation in the last year, with a new team boss, new title sponsor, new driver and an upgrade to a current-spec engine. The person who witnessed it all was Marcus Ericsson. During the Barcelona winter testing, he sat down with ŚwiatWyścigów.pl’s Roksana Ćwik.
After having to deal a year-old power unit last season, now you have the latest spec at your disposal. It must make you pretty confident about the upcoming season.
Of course it is a pretty big step for us. Last year was quite difficult because of the old engine and we knew there we will be at a deficit to everyone else. So, to have a new Ferrari engine this year and have the same equipment as the factory team is a big improvement and affects everyone’s motivation. We know that we have a good package.
Obviously the engine is not the only change in the car and you have said that Sauber has perhaps the most to gain of all teams. So, what were the other improvements?
I would say that we have completely changed the mechanical concept of the car and introduced some new philosophy in terms of both aerodynamic and suspension design. It is fair to say that we have a completely new car this year. This is good, as we have been at the back last year. We needed to do some big changes and we have done that. It is already obvious that the car behaves differently and that is a positive feeling.
So, you must be happy with what you did find out during the testing...
Well, you always want to spend more car in the car and learn about it. [In the first] week it became really difficult because of the weather, but it was the same for everyone. [In the second] week we can finally start the proper work, but even so, there still will be question marks when we get to Melbourne and the first part of the season will still be a learning time.
Do you like such conditions or you would rather have the sun?
During testing you obviously want the sun but I thought it was fun. On Friday we got to drive in the wet and it is always good to get mileage in those kind of conditions in order to get better understanding of the car, the tyres and how does various driving techniques work. When the season starts I don’t really mind the conditions.
And what would you say about the new tarmac in Barcelona?
It is very different, very smooth and not bumpy at all. It is quite a big difference compared to how it has usually been here but it is alright.
How does it feel to be representing such legendary brand as Alfa Romeo?
I am very proud to represent Alfa Romeo in Formula One. For them to be back is something very special and as you have said they have a rich history both as a car manufacturer and a Formula One entrant, so it does feel great to be a part of it.
Will you get more support from Ferrari now that you represent the same automotive group?
I do not know all the details, but for sure Ferrari is very interested in us doing well. I am sure they will help us as much as they can – it something that we need to use and take advantage of.
With a new season you also have a new team mate in Charles Leclerc. Did you get a chance to get to know him?
Yes, I got to know him a little bit last season when he did a few practice sessions with us and then during the winter we got to spent some time in the factory together. So, I got to know him a little bit. Obviously he is a very talented driver but also a nice guy outside of the track.
He is a rookie, so do you consider yourself a coach to him?
No, I wouldn’t say anything like that. Obviously now that I have some experience in F1, I need to use it and be the leader of the team.
Last year Frédéric Vasseur took over running of the team. How much did change under his leadership?
Quite a few things have changed. He has introduced his own way of doing things inside the team. He is a very strong leader and straightforward in terms of what he thinks is the right way to do things. So far it has been positive. It is great for us to have a leader that really knows what he is doing and what he wants to achieve.
On Tuesday the team announced Tatiana Calderón as their new test driver. How do you feel about women competing with men, as it has been a hot topic in recent months?
It is not something that I think about a lot but I do not see why women should not be able to compete with men. I am not an expert but I think it should be possible.
Your brother Hampus will continue racing in F4 this year. After a strong debut season, what would be considered a success this year?
He did a very good job last year, winning the rookie championship and fighting for good places overall. So, I think this year the target should be the top 3 in the championship. Of course we would like to see him win the championship, but it will be tough, as Red Bull has brought two of their very good drivers there. I will follow his races closely and try to help as much as I can.
Did you give him some advice?
Of course, I try to support him with my experience. It is difficult when you are not able to go so much with him, but I try to help as much as I can.