Marcus Ericsson admits he needs to find a way to improve his qualifying performances soon in order to deliver more points for Sauber and try to retain his seat.
Having started the season with an impressive ninth place in Bahrain, Ericsson has struggled to match rookie Charles Leclerc on Saturdays and saw his teammate go on to pick up five point-scoring results in six races prior to the British Grand Prix. While Ericsson himself scored again in Austria, qualifying at Silverstone saw him slowest in Q2 while Leclerc reached Q3, and in a competitive midfield a lowly starting position is hurting his chances of a top-10 finish.
“I need to find a way to qualify better, that’s the key,” Ericsson said. “I’ve said it for a few weekends now and that’s still the main challenge for me at the moment, as I think my race pace is as strong as anyone’s. With the car we have I feel really confident in the races and I’m very strong in tire management, which I showed in Austria and also [Silverstone].
“I believe that if I can manage to qualify a few places higher up — a few places closer to the top 10 or around the top 10 — then I would be very, very strong in the races. For me that will be the main focus with the team, and try and get all the different feedback from them in how we can improve it. Setup, tires, driving, everything. It’s a combination of everything.
“Like I’ve said for quite a while, we need to keep working on it as that’s the key for scoring bigger points and that’s what I’m going to do in the two weeks before Hockenheim.”
Asked if it is important to show an upturn in performance before the summer break, Ericsson replied: “Of course. It would have been better to do it [at Silverstone] but I’ll try my everything to do it already in Hockenheim.”
With Formula 1 having just come off the back of its first triple-header, the Swede feels it has been difficult to make progress recently due to the relentless nature of the calendar.
“Yeah, I mean now you’re so into it every weekend going into the next one. Now we have a bit of time to sort of sit back and think a bit maybe outside the box and come up with some ideas that we can try. Because at the end of the day it’s a thing to get me more comfortable with that one lap, to try and make me feel more where the grip level is and be comfortable on that grip level.
“I know I can do it. I’ve been strong in qualifying before and I know how to be good at one lap, but at the moment I don’t really get that feeling I need for some reason and we need to find that. I think it’s also confidence — you have one great qualifying and suddenly it’s there and it clicks and then you know you keep going there. I think that’s what we’re going to look for.”