With two points already on his account after the first five races, Marcus Ericsson is having his best start to a Formula One season since 2015. The Swede is part of the re-energised Sauber team that has formed a partnership with Alfa Romeo and signed a sparkling talent in Charles Leclerc. Before the Monaco Grand Prix, he talked with ŚwiatWyścigów.pl’s Roksana Ćwik.
First of all, I would like to ask about your fight with Carlos Sainz Jr during the Spanish Grand Prix.
Yeah, it was a nice hard wheel-to-wheel battle that lasted a few laps. It was nice that he couldn’t get past. We are friends with Carlos and it was cool that we could race this close without touching.
After a few races, what do you think of the team dynamics?
I think it’s good. It really feels like a fresh start and the first five races have been really positive. We’ve been scoring points with both cars, making progress and I think that the whole team is going in the right direction. With me and Charles, we had a good start to the season, with us fighting and working together.
Charles has told that you are pushing him to be a better driver. Is it working both ways?
I think so. Charles is obviously an extremely good driver and we are pushing each other to the maximum. He had a two strong weekends now, so I have to bounce back and be on top this time.
Do you think you can challenge the top midfield team in the relative future?
Yeah, I think we’ve taken good steps this year and we are a lot more competitive. We make improvements every weekend and I definitely feel that we are fighting in the midfield. Of course we need to keep pushing, but we are in the mix.
What new parts do you have for the start of the European season?
We didn’t have that many for the weekend in Barcelona but we’ve brought some more bits and pieces – the floor, brake ducts and stuff like that – for the recent test. We have confirmed that they bring more performance, so we will have them on the car in Monaco. Hopefully that will help us to be more competitive this weekend.
It is generally understood that you have a very complex car and needed some time to unlock the performance in it. How far are in you in this process?
We are learning all the time, but we have a good understanding of the car and its strengths and weaknesses. For sure the progress since testing has been quite steep and in that time we have brought new parts to develop the car.
Speaking at the test, you were hopeful that Alfa Romeo might step in with their technical knowledge. Did that happen?
I’m not sure what has happened in the factory on this subject but for sure we are making a strong connection between the two brands and that helps the team to grow. Alfa Romeo is very important for our future.
What do you think about the changes for the 2019 season?
From what I understood, it should allow us to follow each other much closer and for me that’s very positive. If it brings better racing, it would be a positive change for the Formula 1.
The hypersoft tyre will make its race debut here in Monaco and some drivers have already stated that it can still be a one-stop race.
With Pirelli there is usually only one pitstop and I think it will be the same this weekend. I am really looking forward to driving the hypersoft because I think the tyre is really good and will give a lot of grip. On this track it should be a lot of fun.
It is probably the narrowest track in the calendar, so the widening of the cars should had the most detrimental effect to the overtaking here.
Yes, it is almost impossible to overtake around here, but I still love driving here as it’s such a unique challenge. I think qualifying with these fast cars and the hypersoft tyre will be spectacular.
What is the most difficult part of the track?
The whole track is really difficult and it’s a fantastic experience to drive these cars around the streets here. I really enjoy the Swimming Pool section because it’s fast and the walls are pretty close.
How the unique characteristic of this track will affect your performance?
It will be interesting to see how do we compare to the others on this type of track. There are some very slow corners and you need downforce around here. I believe we can have a very strong weekend but we have to wait and see.
So, first Monaco points for you this weekend?
That’s the plan.