Sauber’s newly formed partnership with Alfa Romeo has been a big motivation for the team to move up the grid in its resurgence, says Marcus Ericsson.
The link is the result of a closer technical alliance with Ferrari which now supply the squad with current-spec engines in 2018 after the team previously used year-old units in seasons gone by – leaving them at a dis-advantage and dwindling at the rear of the field.
With two rounds down, it has already yielded results with Ericsson scoring his first points in 50 races at the Bahrain Grand Prix, claiming ninth last weekend.
The result highlighted a turn in performance for Sauber in 2018 as the team sets out a quest to bring the fight to the mid-pack and join the likes of McLaren, Force India and Renault in the top ten.
For Ericsson, the performance confirmed his perception that the spirit within the Swiss team has been lifted as the prosperity of the Alfa Romeo partnership washes through the operation.
“Like I said, for the team, it’s like a new chapter this year,” Ericsson said.
“A lot of things have been changing over the winter, especially, obviously, with Alfa Romeo coming on board, a lot of new people coming in to the team.
“A lot of things changing, completely different resources. It’s been a big change and you can feel it inside the team. You can feel the motivation is very high, people are believing again.
“It’s a big motivation to move up the grid, whereas it’s been more about the team surviving the last few years, so it’s not so much been pushing for performance, it’s been more pushing for trying to survive every week, every race.
“Having that mindset, it’s then difficult to get the results whereas now we go into the season to push, to make results and to move up the grid. It’s just a completely different mindset.
“For me, that’s been very nice to see. So far it’s been very good, but we still have a long way to go and we need to keep working hard but it’s been very positive.”
Return to points a relief
As previously mentioned, the success in Bahrain marked Ericsson’s first points in 50 races, dating back to the 2015 Italian Grand Prix where he also finished ninth.
The 29-year old believes it was an immense weight off his shoulders and will again strive to take home a points paying finish at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.
“Of course, it was big relief,” Ericsson added.
“I think I’ve had four times P11 since then (last points finish). So, I was close a lot of times, and had some great races but it’s very difficult when you’re in the worst car on the grid.
“Some races I had a perfect race – and finished P14 or something like that. It’s frustrating, but, yeah, of course we’re all here to try to score points. So to be back in the points last weekend was a great relief.
“On the second part, to score points, being the first one in this new chapter with Alfa, I think it’s something that makes me proud.
“First of all I’m proud to represent Alfa Romeo in Formula One again, I think it’s a very legendary brand. It’s very special to represent them in Formula One again and of course to score points with them.”