By: Tanner Watkins
October 30, 2018 | 8:28 AM
While Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will leave a seat open as Robert Wickens continues his courageous rehabilitation fight, the team has hired quite a compelling teammate for the SPM stable in 2019. It has been announced that five-year Formula One veteran Marcus Ericsson has joined Sam Schmidt’s team to run alongside James Hinchcliffe for next year’s IndyCar season.
Ericsson, 28, has made 95 career starts over the course of five seasons in Formula One. The Swede’s career-best finish came back in 2015 when he picked up an eighth-place result at the Australian Grand Prix driving for Sauber.
With two rounds remaining in the 2018 championship, Ericsson is enjoying his best season to date with 9 points, a career-best average finish of 12.6 and a high water mark of 17 races logged where he was running at the finish.
“It’s a great honour to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” Ericsson stated in the team’s press release. “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 will inherit a worthy supporting ride alongside veteran James Hinchcliffe upon his entry to IndyCar. Wickens piloted the No. 6 Honda to four podiums, a pole award and both the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year awards in 2018.
“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 added. “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.”
One caveat to this venture for Ericsson is that he will remain part of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team as a reserve driver. While the former Formula BMW UK and Japanese Formula Three champion is all-in on IndyCar in 2019, it is clear that Ericsson would like to remain connected to the F1 world.
For Sam Schmidt, hiring Ericsson still presents an exciting opportunity and gives the second Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car an instant chance at success.
“Ric (Peterson) and I are excited to welcome Marcus to the team,” said Schmidt this week. “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.”
If you hadn’t noticed, SPM is moving its second full-time car from number six to number seven. This was pre-determined and out of respect of Wickens, who SPM says still owns that number and it is available for him “when he wants to and is able to return” to the car.
Ericsson will most likely find his way into a Dallara IndyCar for the first time in either December or January. The season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be March 8-10, 2019.
Header image courtesy of Formua One.