Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson to race for Sauber in F1 2018

Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne has announced that Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc will race for Sauber in Formula 1 next season

Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson to race for Sauber in F1 2018

Ericsson had been in a fight with Antonio Giovinazzi for the second seat at Sauber, which will have closer ties with Ferrari next season thanks to a partnership with Alfa Romeo.

Although the initial idea of an Alfa Romeo team was triggered because Marchionne wanted a proving ground for young Italian racers, Ericsson's close ties with Sauber's owners eventually won out.

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The announcement was made at the launch of the new Alfa Romeo partnership in Italy on Saturday, when Marchionne confirmed the expected news that Leclerc will be stepping up to F1 after a dominant campaign in F2.

Team principal Frederic Vasseur said: "With Marcus and Charles, we have a strong driver duo for the debut season of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.

"Marcus is an experienced Formula 1 driver, who knows the procedures and the team well, after having worked together for the past three years. He is a team player, and has a very positive attitude.

"Charles has proven his talent in several racing series, most recently winning the Formula 2 title.

"He had the chance to drive in four FP1 sessions and two tyre tests for us this season, and convinced the team with his professionalism and charisma.

"I look forward to going into 2018 with this driver pairing, and I am convinced that they will complement each other very well."

Sauber has undergone a dramatic change of direction this year after former team principal Monisha Kaltenborn was moved aside in favour of Vasseur.

A plan to run Honda engines in 2018 was abandoned swiftly, as Vasseur believed that the future of the team was best served by getting much closer to Ferrari.

A customer engine deal was believed to include an agreement for it to take one of Ferrari's young drivers, with Leclerc's speed this year making it clear he was the preferred option to take the first seat.

And although Giovinazzi was in contention for much of the year to step up to a full-time F1 seat, Sauber confirmed on Saturday the Italian will be its third driver next year.

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