With the 2017 season just around the corner, we will be previewing the inter-team battles that will, as always, be a talking point up and down the grid. We start with Sauber garages and the upcoming battle between Marcus Ericsson and Pascal Wehrlein.
Pascal Wehrlein has the usual promising narrative surrounding him. Whether or not this comes to fruition largely depends on whether Sauber can get their act together in 2017. Plagued by a lack of updates last season due to financial gloom, Sauber are hoping that the upcoming season provides a stronger platform for them to score points a bit more regularly.
Marcus Ericsson goes into his fourth season of Formula One yet to make a serious name for himself. He is highly-rated by team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn, who believes that he is a future Formula One race-winner. He has shown flashes of brilliance, his 11th in Mexico last season a drive in which he beat the likes of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in the McLaren’s. He could definitely hold his own with a better car, he has to be considered experienced in Formula One, so it is expected.
Ericsson is expecting a bigger challenge as he faces Wehrlein, the Swedish driver said of his new teammate,
“Of course my aim is to beat him — what else — and I expect it to be a tough fight. But that’s exactly what I need in order to perform at my best.”
– Marcus Ericsson
He is right to anticipate a tough fight. Wehrlein managed to out-qualify Ericsson 13-times last season in a slightly weaker Manor. The Swedish driver managed to finish ahead of Wehrlein on 13 occasions, but in the same car, you’d have to back the young German.
Wehrlein’s outright pace could always push the Swede to new heights – teammates always talk of the pride taken in beating the guy in the same car. Sauber could end up having a decent pairing in disguise if they can produce at least a solid midfield runner. Both of their drivers are untested in terms of fighting regularly in the points-scoring positions and at the sharp end of the grid in general, but Sauber will be in a stronger position next season, simply on the basis that they will have the funds secure to amend and update as the season advances.
We think Wehrlein will edge Ericsson in 2017 simply because he was impressive for Manor last season and made a much bigger impression than the Swede, despite the gap in F1 experience. It feels like time is running out for Ericsson, who needs to hope that the team he has stayed loyal to through thick and thin are able to produce a car capable of some strong finishes.