Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Spa-Francorchamps, 2015

2015 F1 driver rankings #19: Marcus Ericsson

2015 F1 season review

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Marcus Ericsson

Beat team mate in qualifying9/19
Beat team mate in race6/14
Races finished16/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate436/930
Points9
Marcus Ericsson 2015 form guide

In his second season of F1 – and his first complete one – Marcus Ericsson is still yet to distinguish himself with the kind of result which puts beyond doubt the question whether he deserves to be racing in the top flight.

Australia was arguably his first start in a car capable of taking points and although he delivered, his rookie team mate did conspicuously better. Ericsson didn’t improve on that eighth place all year long, though that said at least as much about his car as it did about his driving.

Ericsson looked most threatening early in the year when the car was at is best. In Malaysia he reached Q3 but in the race he threw his points chance away by spinning off. As the year passed he became less prone to such mistakes, but by then the C34 was increasingly outclassed.

More points followed in China, where he reached Q3 again, after which he had to wait until Hungary for more. This kicked off a three-race spell of top ten finishes which was followed by a fallow end to the year.

There were opportunities to do better, notably at Silverstone where he got his tyre strategy wrong twice in slippery conditions. At Suzuka, a track he knows well, he spun in qualifying and the race.

Ericsson’s season was about as far from bad as it was from great. But that very indifference is what makes it hard to justify placing him any higher.

View race-by-race notes on Marcus Ericsson

Australia – Took the first points of his career on a difficult weekend for Sauber as neither driver was able to run in first practice due to their ongoing legal problems. However he was unhappy with his car’s braking and consequently rarely looked like the more experienced Sauber driver. It was Ericsson who failed to get through Q1, and at the end of the race he was over a minute behind Nasr.

Malaysia – Made it into Q3 at Raikkonen’s expense but threw away a chance of another points finish by spinning into the gravel on lap three.

China – Decent qualifying performance saw him into Q3 and ultimately line up tenth – just less than a tenth of a second off his team mate. Spent a lot of the race battling for position but was passed more often than he passed others. Struggled with front tyre wear and inherited the last points position after Verstappen’s late retirement.

Bahrain – Gained four places on the first lap to run ninth but his progress was stymied by a problem with his front left wheel nut which dropped him back to 17th and ended his pursuit of a points finish.

Spain – Raffaele Marciello drove his car in the first practice session, and his lack of running perhaps told in Q1 where he failed to make the cut. He struggled to make progress in the race and was unimpressed at being held up by his team mate at one stage.

Monaco – An ERS problem confined him to the garage during second practice, but rain meant he wouldn’t have run much anyway. Dropped out in Q1 with his worst qualifying result yet, and made little impression in the race.

Canada – Sauber did not have the benefit of Ferrari’s engine upgrade in Canada. Ericsson blamed traffic for not qualifying better but still came out ahead of his team mate. He ran to a lowly 14th, then had to park up immediately after the chequered flag with a fuel system problem.

Austria – Failed to make the cut in Q2, where Nasr beat him by over seven tenths of a second. Jumped the start, collecting a penalty, and was further hampered by intermittent power cut-outs on his car.

Britain – Missed first practice as Raffaele Marciello was in his car. Got through into Q2 but only ended up one place in front of his team mate, suggesting this was the Sauber’s level. Points were possible in the race but he got his tyre strategy badly wrong when the rain fell: pitting too soon for intermediates then compounding his error by switching to slicks just before the rain returned.

Hungary – Both Sauber drivers received the confidence-boosting news that they’d been retained for 2016 ahead of the race weekend. Ericsson out-qualified his team mate but the pair had only the Manors behind them. A race of attrition presented the opportunity to pick up a point and Ericsson was the one who capitalised, leading Nasr home.

Belgium – Had a substantial crash at Pouhon during second practice after losing control mid-corner, but rebounded on Saturday and beat Nasr into Q2. The pair ran in that order for most of the race, but were unable to make an impression on the rest of the midfield pack. Vettel’s retirement promoted Ericsson to the final points place.

Italy – Felt he produced “one of the strongest races so far this year”, holding eighth early on and keeping the press on Hulkenberg. However he lost eighth at the final corner to Ricciardo.

Singapore – Trying to validate a new aerodynamic update at a track like Singapore was always going to be a struggle for Sauber, and they expect it will bear fruit at later races. Ericsson was shaded by Nasr in qualifying, where both went out in Q1. His race was compromised when he neglected to reset his brake balance after a pit stop, leading to a substantial lock-up. He complained about being held up by his team mate early in the race but ended up behind Nasr at the flag, just outside the points.

Japan – Despite being the only Sauber driver with prior experience of Suzuka – and quite a bit of it – it was Ericsson who spun off the track during qualifying. He had another spin during the race. Attempting to run a long stint on hard tyres at the end of the race didn’t pay off and he fell to 14th after being passed by Perez and Kvyat.

Russia – A luckless weekend: A tyre sensor problem scuppered him in qualifying and Hulkenberg’s spinning Force India left him with nowhere to go at turn two at the start.

United States – He was the first driver to switch to slicks and make it work, but Ericsson gained little from his gamble and retired shortly afterwards with duff electronics.

Mexico – Having been plagued with braking problems caused by bottoming in practice, Ericsson nonetheless beat Nasr to be the only Sauber in Q2. He had more braking trouble in the race, and points never looked likely.

Brazil – Unremarkable in qualifying, then didn’t make a great start in the race. Contact with Maldonado then ruined his race. “He hit the back of my car, spun me around and we had to pit to check for damage,” said Ericsson. “I lost around 30 to 40 seconds.”

Abu Dhabi – Slipped up in qualifying and failed to make it out of Q1. Ran the opposite strategy to his team mate and therefore briefly ran as his as seventh on softs early in the race. Using super-softs at the end he was able to pass Nasr and finish ahead.


Over to you

The Sauber was not a car which could’ve fought for podiums, and seldom fought for points, but it is clear Ericsson is not the way to go for the team.
@Fixy

What’s your verdict on Marcus Ericsson’s 2015 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “2015 F1 driver rankings #19: Marcus Ericsson”

  1. Well it seems Kimi’s going to finish higher in the rankings than I anticipated. Surely he comes next Keith.

    1. @glennb I wouldn’t say that Raikkonen was that bad, but he definitely deserves a place in the bottom 6.

      1. I am a Kimi fan but lol! Bottom 6!

  2. ColdFly F1 (@)
    8th December 2015, 14:05

    In his second season of F1 – and his first complete one

    Technically, his first full season, but effectively he was only replaced for 1 race in 2014. That would mean that Alonso did not have a full season in 2015 either.
    To me he was a bit better than last year, however still beaten by his rookie teammate and deservedly ranked low in this list!

  3. I have to agree with placing Ericsson this far down, and I’m Swedish!

    He was outpaced by Nasr in the first half of the season, when the car was good. He beat Nasr much more consistently in the second half. If he can maintain that pace, and keep beating Nasr in 2016, then I would agree Ericsson deserves F1. After two seasons, I cannot agree with it yet. He might be F1 worthy, but he hasn’t shown it consistently yet.

    His races in Monza, Hungary and in Abu Dhabi were good but this didn’t show thanks to a largely undeveloped car.

    1. @chrischrill

      He was outpaced by Nasr in the first half of the season, when the car was good. He beat Nasr much more consistently in the second half. If he can maintain that pace, and keep beating Nasr in 2016, then I would agree Ericsson deserves F1.

      I don’t quite understand the reasoning behind this. Nasr is an unproven rookie at this point and Ericsson hasn’t quite dominated him. But if next year Ericsson beats Nasr in 2016 then he would deserve F1? We have no real idea how good Nasr is, so how can you reach that conclusion?

      As far as I’m concerned if Ericsson beats Nasr next year, neither should be in F1.

      1. Nasr was on the radar in F1 due to his talent, Markus is there because money only.

  4. ColdFly F1 (@)
    8th December 2015, 14:09

    @keithcollantine – I think it would be interesting (not sure if it’s possible though) if you start a quick poll amongst us how we rank the top 18.
    Best would be to not yet show the results but incorporate it in your count down!
    (maybe idea for next year)

  5. To be honest, it’s not quickly, but at least he’s improving.

    One thing I can say about him, he is great with the fans. Goes out of his way for them.

    1. One thing I can say about him, he is great with the fans. Goes out of his way for them.

      Well said.

    2. I agree that there is progress. And we have seen him being very good at defending a spot – he had to do a lot of that this year. Maybe he really just needs more time.

      As you mention he did show that he is a positive for catering to the fans where he can. So that is another thing he has going for him then.

      1. @bascbb

        I agree. Ericsson’s battle with Felipe Massa in Canada was a stand-out moment. Great driving from the two, very precise and close and controlled.

  6. If I had to sum up my feelings for this driver in one word, it would be “meh”.

    He’s decent, but nothing special or out of the ordinary. He turned out to be better than I thought he would be in his first season with a decent car, but there are still a handful of drivers out there who’d I pick before him.

  7. Maybe the closest thing Ericsson will get to Ronnie Peterson will be the special helmet he wore in Monaco, but he did prove to be at least somewhat productive with a car that’s actually got more pace than a novice driver’s first second-hand hatchback and showed enough genuine, honest-to-goodness improvement to draw level with Nasr on every stat except points – and yet still didn’t look as impressive as Nasr. Great guy. Better junior formula resume than your father’s “pay-drivers”. But his ceiling’s somewhere just above “Pedro Diniz” – I don’t know how long he’ll last.

  8. Nasr didnt impress me at all this season so i rank Ericsson higher than at least his teammate and i could at least find a couple more drivers out of the remaining 18 that i would rank lower than him. Hes really quick and his wheel to wheel racing has been super impressive even if its mostly him defending and trying to let faster cars by without loosing time. To me it seems like he cracks under pressure, when the car was good Ericsson was bad and vice versa. Theres been at least 4 races this season when Ericsson was doing really good and he just spun or stalled or whatever. So many rookiemistakes when it matters the most is only acceptable if you are a fin. He needs consistancy if hes gonna stay at this level, he got the rest.

    Yes im swedish.

  9. Got to agree with’s Keith’s rankings of the bottom 3 drivers. Maldonado is an absolute disaster in every wasy, and deserves to be at the bottom of the pile. Merhi was way off the pace for the 1st half of the season, and was outclassed by a highly unproven driver in Will Stevens.

    Ericcson was also outdone by his teammate in the 1st half of the season, and really never produced any decent results until the 2nd half of the season. He threw away some Sundays after a good showing in quali, and overall, just didn’t do anything noticeable all season long.

    My prediction for the next 4 – #18 Will Stevens, #17 – Felipe Nasr , #16 – Kevin Magnussen , #15 – Kimi Raikonnen

  10. I don’t understand the relatively big gap between Ericsson and Nasr here, @keithcollantine.

    Post-Montreal, it was even Ericsson who had the better pace of the two of them more often – and with him being more error-prone, I’d say they were pretty closely-matched overall.

  11. @keithcollantine please could you include the driver age in these great individual season reviews. I just think that it helps understand where these guys are at (or should be at) regarding maturity etc. I have no idea how old Stevens, Mehri, Rossi, Erricson or Nasr and Sainz are.
    Thanks for all the great work you do.

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