Marcus Ericsson believes he was closer to former Sauber teammate Pascal Wehrlein in 2017 than the final championship standings suggest.
Despite missing the first two races due to a back injury, Wehrlein went on to score five points in his season with Sauber – finishing eighth in Spain and tenth in Azerbaijan – while Ericsson failed to finish a race in the top ten. However, following the announcement of a new partnership with Alfa Romeo, Sauber has retained the Swede for 2018 while Wehrlein lost his seat to Ferrari youngster Charles Leclerc.
Ericsson feels the final championship standings do not tell the full story between the 2017 teammates, saying the lack of competitiveness from last year’s Sauber masked how close to Wehrlein he was.
“I still feel like I’ve developed as a driver and become better and better,” Ericsson said. “I would say that Pascal… my first year with Kamui [Kobayashi in 2014] was really tough. Kamui had a lot of experience and was a really good driver.
“I think Pascal is a super-talented driver and it has been good for me to have him as a teammate because with all the hype around him being a Mercedes junior, it’s been perfect for me to have him as a benchmark.
“I think if you look in the statistics, if you look at the average between teammates, we’re the closest ones on the grid if you look at all the qualifying sessions. I think that says quite a lot and it’s been good for me to have that.
“The only problem is that we’ve been most of the time near the back and not fighting for points. That’s why I stand on zero points and he has five points, and it looks like it’s a big difference. But actually if you look more closely on numbers, it’s been really close between us.”
In the 18 qualifying sessions that both drivers took part in for Sauber in 2017, Wehrlein outqualified Ericsson on 11 occasions, with an average gap between the pair of just 0.049s.