Ericsson notices growing home support with better results

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Marcus Ericsson says support in his home country Sweden has been growing since he switched to Sauber and started securing better results.

Having graduated to Formula One with the now-defunct Caterham team in 2014, the 25-year-old toiled at the back for one season – minus the final three grands prix – but was able to find refuge at the Swiss outfit last winter.

Although Ericsson was generally outshone by rookie team-mate Felipe Nasr over the first half of 2015, the former Japanese F3 champion managed to recover and give the Brazilian a harder time from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.

Now approaching his third campaign in the top flight, the Swede hopes he can extend that momentum and carry on increasing his fanbase.

“The support I have in Sweden is great,” Ericsson told Autosport. “We didn't have a driver in F1 for 23 years before I entered the sport, so I appreciate the support.

“It's great and I can see with my results getting better, there are more people following.”

Ericsson, who became the first Swede in F1 since former Ferrari and McLaren racer Stefan Johansson last competed in 1991, thinks another way of boosting local interest would be to see a return of grand prix racing in the area.

Sweden hosted an F1 race at Anderstorp for six years between 1973 and 1978, with world champions Niki Lauda and Jody Scheckter winning twice. The country has produced several race winners in Jo Bonnier, Gunnar Nilsson, and Ronnie Peterson, while Johansson was a multiple podium finisher.

What’s more, neighbouring Finland can boast a trio of world champions – Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen, and Kimi Raikkonen –, with the highly-rated Valtteri Bottas making it three drivers from the region on the grid in 2016.

“I don't see it happening for a long time but it would be cool for the sport if we can have a race in northern Europe,” Ericsson added.

“We have Swedes, Finns and a lot of tradition for motorsport in Scandinavia. So to have a race there would be very, very good and I think a lot of people would watch it.

“As it is now, the money it costs to do a race, I don't see a country like Sweden having the money. But I think for sure, there would be great interest for it.”

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