Marcus Ericsson 'proud' of role in Sauber F1 recovery from 'rock bottom'
Departing Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson says he can feel “proud” of the part he played in the Formula 1 team’s revival from “rock bottom”.
Ericsson joined Sauber in late 2014 but shortly after the operation entered a period of decline, struggling both on- and off-track, at one stage coming perilously close to collapse amid worsening finances.
A mid-2016 takeover alleviated those concerns and a long-term plan was implemented, resulting in fresh investment, the arrival of Frederic Vasseur and a renewed and strengthened relationship with Ferrari and its sister company Alfa Romeo.
Sauber spent much of 2016 and 2017 rooted to the rear of the field but has been one of the most improved teams through 2018, leading the midfield group at a handful of events.
The team finished eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, ahead of Toro Rosso and Williams, with its highest points total in the hybrid era.
“I think when I came here we had a great start to 2015 with some strong races, strong results, quite a lot of points,” commented Ericsson.
“But then sort of halfway through that season it became like a survival mode type of racing for two and a half years almost, and it was very tough times for the team.
“We were struggling a lot being less and less competitive and that was making it very difficult as a driver.
“We were really at rock bottom, it felt like, but then we were able to turn that around.
“To be part of that transformation we’ve had that last 12 months has been very fun.
“I’m proud of being part of that, this last season has been really great for the team and for myself as well.”
Ericsson nonetheless admitted sadness at not being able to remain with the project, after Sauber opted to recruit Kimi Raikkonen alongside the promoted Antonio Giovinazzi.
Ericsson will retain his link with Sauber in a reserve role but is unlikely to attend many Grands Prix due to his IndyCar programme with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, meaning he will be based in Indianapolis.
“That’s the disappointing part – not being able to continue it,” he added of his time with Sauber.
“Because 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 our 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.”
Ericsson departs Formula 1 having scored 18 points across his 97-race career, with a best of eighth at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, and a highest championship classification of 17th this year.