It’s a slightly strange situation when you see the ‘R’ for ‘Rookie’ next to the name of a driver who has started nearly 100 grands prix, but then IndyCar is a unique series.
Road course, street tracks, short ovals and superspeedways — the variety of circuits that are raced on means a different skill set is required to Formula 1. That explains why a rookie to the category needs marking out, and for someone with F1 experience but not in race-winning machinery, having the chance to start over again is attractive.
“Formula 1 has a big risk of hurting your reputation,” Marcus Ericsson told RACER. “It’s very easy in Formula 1 to be put in a folder, like ‘He’s s**t, or he’s not good enough,’ or he’s this or that. I love Formula 1 — Formula 1 is Formula 1 and it always will be for me — but I think one of the problems with Formula 1 is that it is clearly a manufacturer’s championship.
“For drivers, if you’re in a good team it’s a great championship, but if you’re not in a top team then it is a difficult championship and it’s easy to be put in folders and then it’s difficult to show what you can do. So I think that’s one of the problems Formula 1 has, especially now when it’s so spread out between the top and the rest.
“For sure I feel like I’m rebuilding my reputation here, 100%. If you only look at the results my first five weekends have not been a success. But if you look a bit deeper into it, especially the, first three weekends I was one of the quickest in all three races and was going from back of the grid to top eight in all three of them.
“Obviously Long Beach I had the start incident and in the GP here crashed out after 10 laps, so the last few weekends haven’t been very good for us, but definitely I’m showing what I can do. And I’ve also shown that I can fight with all these guys in this series, so that’s been really good.”
Ericsson truly showed what he can do when it came to qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. On his first visit to the Brickyard, he qualified an impressive 13th for Sunday’s race to be the lead Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car. As proud as he is about that result, one of the more satisfying aspects of racing in IndyCar he has found so far is the knowledge that you have a shot — even with discrepancies between teams — at fighting for first place.
“To be honest I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about it, if I was going to feel a big difference from it, because I was so used to that F1 mindset that I had for five years. But then when I came here and started testing and started looking at who is fastest and how far we are from P1, you start thinking like that again and remember that’s why we’re doing it.
“That’s what you want to do — you want to win. You want to be fighting for P1 or the top three and be on the podium, and that really got me going, so already in testing I was finding it really fun to be looking at P1 again and aiming for that spot.”