By: Spencer Neff
February 26, 2019 | 8:08 AM
Marcus Ericsson is the latest in a long line of drivers to join the NTT IndyCar Series from Formula 1. With Robert Wickens still rehabilitating from his August 18 crash at Pocono, Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports opted to add Ericsson alongside James Hinchcliffe.
Although this is Ericsson’s first foray into IndyCar, he does carry connections to the series’ past. At nine years old, former IndyCar driver Frederik Ekblom notices the Kumla, Sweden native’s talent at a local go-kart track. Ekblom then convinced Ericsson’s father to buy him a go-kart.
Ekblom recommends Ericsson to Fortec Motorsport boss Richard Dutton. At this time, Ericsson attracts the attention of countryman and 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner Kenny Brack.
In 2007, the 16-year-old would step up to Formula BMW. In his first season, Ericsson continued to impress. On the strength of 11 poles, seven wins and six additional podium finishes, Ericsson earns the championship.
For 2008, Ericsson moves on to Formula 3 with Fortec. Although he goes winless, he does post five podium finishes and two pole positions in 22 races. He also competes in the famed Macau Grand Prix with Carlin Motorsports that season.
2009 brings a move to Japan to compete in Japanese Formula 3 with TOM’s. Following five victories and five poles, along with 11 podiums, Ericsson earns his second championship in three seasons.
He also returns to British FOrmula 3 with Raikkonen Robertson Racing, earning two wins and a pole position in six races. In his second Macau Grand Prix, Ericsson earns the pole and finishes fourth with TOM’s.
By the end of the season, he works his way up to GP2 Asia. In the 2009-10 season, he makes two starts each with ART Grand Prix and Super Nova.
For 2010, Ericsson joins Super Nova for the GP2 season and finishes 17th in the standings. His lone Top Five finish is a victory at the sprint race during the Valencia Round. Although he improves to 10th in the final standings and earns two podiums with iSport International, Ericsson goes winless in 2011.
Returning to iSport in 2012, Ericsson earns his first Feature victory at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Four additional podium finishes propel him to eighth in the final standings.
In 2013, Ericsson moves on to DAMS in GP2. After struggling early, he records nine Top Ten finishes in the final 13 races, including a victory in the Feature race at Nurburgring.
Ericsson’s efforts in GP2 pay off, as he moves up to Formula 1 for the 2014 season. His rookie season in Formula provides less than an ideal start. He competes in 16 of 19 races and earns a best finish of 11th at the famed Monaco Grand Prix.
2015 brings about another move for the Swede’s sophomore year. Ericsson joins the Sauber team. His time with Sauber gets off to an exciting start.
In his debut race at Australia’s Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Ericsson earns a career-best eighth-place finish. By season’s end, he posts four Top 10 finishes for Sauber F1.
The following two seasons are not so successful for Ericsson and Sauber F1. He finishes no better than 11th (Mexico 2016 and Azerbaijan 2017).
For 2018, Sauber switches to Alfa Romeo engines and becomes Alfa Romeo Sauber F1. The change pays off for Ericsson and the team, as he earns a career-best six Top 10 finishes. Ericsson’s best finish of ninth at the Bahrain Grand Prix is duplicated at the German and Mexican Grands Prix.
Before the end of the season, Antonio Giovinazzi is announced as the team’s second driver with Kimi Raikkonen. Giovinazzi and Raikkonen’s arrival moves Ericsson to the team’s reserve driver and brand ambassador role.
On October 30, SPM confirms Ericsson as the driver of their No. 7 Dallara-Honda for the 2019 season.
“It’s a great honour to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” he exclaimed in the announcement.n
Although the NTT IndyCar Series is uncharted territory for Ericsson, he expressed excitement regarding the transition.
“It feels like a perfect step for me and my career after five years in F1. I can’t wait to start work with SPM and all the people in the team which I’ve heard a lot of good things about.”
Ericsson went on to give additional praise to the competition level of the series.
“They’ve had some great success over the years, and I’m looking forward to work hard to continue and improve on that path,” Ericsson noted.
“The racing in IndyCar looks great and I feel really excited to be part of it in the future. It will be a lot to learn including new tracks, oval racing, etc. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge I’m very much looking forward to and I can’t wait to get started.”
Team co-owner Sam Schmidt expressed optimism in regard to Ericsson being able to make a successful transition.
“Ric (Peterson) and I are excited to welcome Marcus to the team,” said Schmidt.“He has a ton of experience racing in the top levels of motorsports, so we believe that he will be able to contribute to our development program that began in earnest in 2018.”
“While the circuits on the IndyCar schedule will be brand new to him, particularly the ovals, we have a lot of confidence and trust in his eagerness to learn along with his work ethic. We think he and James (Hinchcliffe) will be a good fit to push one another and fight for those wins.”
In the Open Test at the Circuit of The Americas, Ericsson posted the second-quickest time during the first session on track. If Ericsson proves to take well to the ovals, he could be in for an impressive season.
Header Image By John Cote/INDYCAR