Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur believes Marcus Ericsson’s performance level in 2017 was masked by weight issues for the majority of the season.
Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein were the two most closely matched teammates on the grid last year in terms of the average time difference in qualifying, and it was the Swede who retained his seat for 2018 alongside rookie Charles Leclerc. Vasseur says Sauber will be leaning on Ericsson a lot this season as a result of his experience with the team, but also says the 27-year-old’s performances were clouded by being overweight during 2017.
“I think if you look at Marcus last year, he improved a lot during the season,” Vasseur told RACER. “We also have to be honest as a team that he was overweight. Mid-season he was more-or-less 10 kilos overweight. We were able to close the gap and come back to the limit in the last part of the season.
“In terms of performance he showed a good improvement and he did well compared to Pascal. From a team perspective and a team point of view, he has good experience, a good collaboration with the team and he’s fully committed. It’s also important for us to have a kind of stability and that experience.
“We know that Charles did a fantastic job in the junior series so far and he has impressive promise but he also has no experience of F1. He will have to discover perhaps 60 percent of the tracks and it was important for us to have a good reference with experience and already a good collaboration with the team.
“I think the line-up is quite balanced like this and we can expect a good collaboration from them and to get the best from them.”
With Ericsson himself admitting he needs to find more consistency during a season, when asked if he has any explanation as to why the Swede’s form often fluctuates, Vasseur replied: “No, I have no .
“I can’t comment on what he did in the past, I was not there. But when I was there, even if he was a little bit at the back when I joined the team it was mainly due to the fact that he was overweight. If you consider the weight was something like three or four tenths a lap, I think he did a consistent job during the season but we were not consistent enough during the season for sure.”