Sauber’s new look

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Two - Day 1 -  Barcelona, Spain


There’s more to Sauber this year than just a different paint job and an upgraded Ferrari power unit. The team has opted for an all-new driver line-up for the first time since 2004, and both Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr are keen to help the team bounce back from the first pointless season in its F1 history…

While both drivers were in Formula One last year, it’s fair to say their experience - Ericsson racing for Caterham and Nasr as reserve driver at Williams - is limited. So F1i caught up with both drivers to see how they’re gearing up for their first season at Sauber.

What’s the last year taught you?

Ericsson: “That it’s not so easy! It’s a very difficult sport and I think one of the main things coming in to Formula One which I think was difficult was to accept that when you go to a race weekend you cannot aim for winning races. That mindset that you have throughout your career when you go through the junior formulas you always went in to a race weekend with the aim to win or get pole position and that’s kind of in your blood.

“Then you come in to F1 and it’s so different and you need to focus much more on yourself otherwise it drives you crazy. That’s one of the things I did. Of course I knew I wasn't going to win a race in a Caterham but still in your head you go in to the race and you want to perform well and beat people.

“I think that was one of the problems at the beginning of the season that I tried too hard and I was over-pushing it because you get the chance and you want to show the world what you can do. I think it’s important in F1 that you accept what you have and try to maximise what you have and look at yourself: How can I do the job better with the team and the car I had and the engineers? There’s loads of other experiences you learn from but for me that was one of the main things that I had to learn during the season.”

Nasr: “Seeing the approach of Williams over a race weekend, how the drivers communicate with the team, the debriefs, the meetings, all the opinions I think this is something that I can take for myself.

“How they look at things, how they speak about tyres, how they speak about this and that and different situations, track conditions, etc. All this feedback that I saw from the team and drivers is something I can take for myself. Now I know what are the priorities during a race weekend, what things I should look for instead of worrying about things that if I didn’t have that experience I would be worrying about the things that are not really important. So I think that was key.”


Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 3 - Jerez, Spain

What do you expect from your team-mate this year?

Ericsson: “It’s a good benchmark. I have some experience driving against him in GP2 and we were always very similar in GP2 pace-wise, so I think it’s a good situation where we will be able to push each other and really make sure we push each other hard. So I think it’s a good match-up.”

Nasr: “For sure having one year in Formula One is already a good beginning. He has to go through a lot of experiences as well as myself, but it’s good. I think he can bring something to the table by having one year’s experience in Formula One, knowing all the circuits from a different team so it’s good that we can share some opinions.”

How badly do you want to beat each other?

Ericsson: “Like always you want to beat your team-mate but I don’t think it’s any different to any other team-mate. Also it’s important that you can work together with your team-mate and that’s something I learned last year, being in a small team you need to discuss things with your team-mate to make sure the development of the car is going as fast as possible. It’s going to be important that we can do that. We haven’t done much yet but so far it feels good."

Nasr: “We raced each other in GP2 and coming in to Formula One now of course if there is any car out there all of us want to beat it. It can be myself or any other car, it can be Marcus … but I think we should approach this year really thinking as a team in total, always going in to a race weekend thinking what is best for the team and what is best to put the car back in the points. So I think we’re going to work well together.”


Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Day 3 - Jerez, Spain

You both bring some form of funding to the team; does it add pressure that you’ve got to deliver for the team and your backers?

Ericsson: “To be honest I don’t really think about that. I have the trust from the team to drive the car and do it as well as I can. For me that’s not something I think about, I just try and make sure I do the best job I can and that’s what I’m focusing on.”

Nasr: “It doesn’t add pressure. To be honest I’ve been having sponsors since I started my career in Europe so in a way it’s a good pressure because there are people that believe in your job, people that believe in investing in your career and I like to praise these people in a way. So it can be in the results, it can be outside the track, in events, in media stuff, so I’ve always been pretty happy to have these people believing in myself.

“Now we’ve both achieved our dream to come in to Formula One, which I think is just the beginning. To arrive in Formula One is one thing and to have success is another step, but I think it gives me a good pressure in a way.”

What do you hope to achieve with Sauber this year? Maybe targets are hard to set this early…

Ericsson: “As you say specific targets are extremely difficult in F1, but if you look at Sauber ever since it entered the sport it’s a team that has been scoring points and fighting for points pretty much every weekend except for 2014. So I think it’s quite clear that we want to be back where we belong, in the mix fighting for points. That’s going to be our goal. We will have to wait and see where we are after a couple of races and then you can put more specific targets on it but for sure we need to aim for points.”

Nasr: “I think it’s clear for myself and for the team to put the car back in the points and of course to score my first ever points in Formula One which I’m really looking forward to. So I will do everything I can to do the best on track, to help improve the car, improve every aspect of the car. So this is clear, this is the first main goal of the season.”

Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Two - Day 1 -  Barcelona, Spain

The team has been traditionally quick in testing but not always as competitive in the season, is that something that keeps your expectations in check?

Ericsson: “We’re not fooling ourselves thinking we’re going to be P1 or P2 when the season kicks off! But we have our programme and we know where we are and that’s what we’re focusing on. What others are doing we cannot really do anything about, but our target is still to try and fight for points, that’s what we’re aiming for at the moment.”

Nasr: “For sure there is a lot of people out there hiding their true potential and I would say we haven’t really gone to our true potential yet. I would be worried if I was saying to you that that’s the best we can do! We need to go through different stuff, different configurations, different set-ups, different tyres.

Also for myself it’s all new. I haven’t been running all the tyres, for example last year I only ran on hard or medium tyres, so it’s good for myself to experience all of that now; the pit stops, the switches, the procedures, strategy calls, long runs, etc. So this is all new for me. Testing is all done for that, for me to experience all these things and to have a better understanding of all these areas so that I have something to expect on the race weekends.”


Motor Racing - Formula One Testing - Test Three - Day 1 -  Barcelona, Spain