Former Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson says that he's happy to be regaining his competitive form after years of being stuck near the back of the Formula 1 grid.
The 28-year-old Swede took part in 97 Grand Prix races between 2014 and 2018, initially with Caterham and then with Sauber.
But ironically it was just when the team was making progress and renamed Alfa Romeo that Ericsson found himself dropped from the full-time driver line-up in favour of Kimi Raikkonen.
This season Ericsson has become a rookie again with a switch to the NTT IndyCar Series in the United States, where he drives for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. He says that he's loving the opportunity to show what he can do on a level playing field alongside team mate James Hinchcliffe.
“For sure I feel like I’m rebuilding my reputation here, 100 per cent," he told RACER magazine this week following his first outing in the famed Indianapolis 500.
"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," he said of his IndyCar season to date.
"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.
"Formula 1 has a big risk of hurting your reputation," he added. "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," he insisted. "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," he continued. "But if you’re not in a top team then it's a difficult championship.
"It’s easy to be put in folders and then it’s difficult to show what you can do," he added. "That’s one of the problems Formula 1 has, especially now when it’s so spread out between the top and the rest."
Ericsson hopes that his new found confidence and proven capabilities behind the wheel of an IndyCar will earn him a new shot with Alfa Romeo where he's still the team's official third driver for 2019.
“I’m hoping I can do a test during the season at some point just to keep me up to date with the cars and everything,” Ericsson told RACER.
"That’s what I’ve been pushing for when I’ve been speaking to them, just to try and get in the car for a test day.
"But FP1 is hard to take from a race driver. I’m more looking at trying to get a test somewhere.
"I’m still the reserve there, so it would make sense for me to get some track time in case something would happen.
“There’s nothing confirmed yet," he admitted. "But the plans is, as far as I know, that when my season is finished here I will try and go to quite a few of the races left on the F1 calendar to be there with the team."