Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson has been signed by Schmidt Peterson Motorsport to drive for them in the IndyCar next season onwards. He has also agreed to be the test and reserve F1 driver for Sauber next year.
“It’s a great honour to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” said Ericsson. “It feels like a perfect step for me and my career after five years in F1.”
Ericsson will line-up in the #7 Honda next to James Hinchcliffe who remains at the team in the #5 Arrows Electronics Honda, while British driver Jack Harvey will continue his part-time campaign through the team’s affiliation with Meyer Shank Racing.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has also moved to confirm the #6 car will remain vacant in 2019 for the injured Robert Wickens as he battles back from life-threatening injuries sustained at Pocono Raceway during the IndyCar round in August.
Ericsson came to F1 in 2014 with the now defunct Caterham team and was seen as the next big thing from Sweden, long after Stefan Johansson made his mark in F1. However, he failed to impress, mainly because of consistently driving the slowest car on the grid.
This season though, he has thrived alongside fresh blood in Charles Leclerc, who has essentially converted Sauber to a mid-table team. It may also be helped by the fact that the Saubers were fitted with the 2018 Ferrari engine, which was a huge hit.
The Swede has had more points-scoring finishes this season than in any other season in his F1 career but it was still not enough to get him the Sauber drive alongside Raikkonen for 2019. Ferrari decided to place their academy graduate, Antonio Giovinazzi, in the second car.
He was demoted to the reserve driver role at Sauber but this IndyCar drive will give him an alternative series to think about and possibly build a career in it in case F1 does not come calling again for him.