Marcus Ericsson has been a driver seemingly trapped in midfield obscurity, without a clear path to the limelight, for some time. He quietly arrived at a Caterham outfit about to plunge into disaster in 2014 before silently switching to Sauber, where more forgettable performances characterised his 2015 season.
I’m sure by this point, Ericsson fans have clicked elsewhere. They stopped reading too soon.
The Swede’s 2016 campaign has been a crucial turning point. He has dumped teammate Felipe Nasr into the shade and managed to earn the team’s best finish of the year in Mexico, with a stunning 11th place finish.
Why get excited about 11th? Well, when Ericsson’s Sauber rolled backwards into a wall after a lap one scuffle with Pascal Wehrlein – an incident facilitating a first lap pit-stop – things looked decidedly bleak.
From there, Ericsson had the drive of his career, making a set of medium compound tyres stretch 70 laps in order to complete a one stop race. Not only that, but he managed to do so whilst maintaining a solid pace and forcing his teammate into the chore of allowing him through at the request of the pit-wall.
In finishing 11th, Ericsson managed to out-race both McLaren’s, Renault’s and Haas’. All while being compromised strategically.
What a time to deliver the drive of your career. Ericsson is just one name involved in F1’s high-stakes game of musical chairs, as drivers vie for the remaining seats on the 2017 grid.
The Swede is widely tipped to remain at Sauber, yet with the team using a year old Ferrari powerunit next season, the Swiss squad are likely to struggle. The much-sought after Force India drive could, therefore, be on Ericsson’s road map.
He’s far from the favourite to secure the seat, but his heroics in Mexico City will have unquestionably caused many paddock dwellers to place a keener eye on the likable Swede.