Charles Leclerc: Marcus Ericsson F1 performances 'difficult for me'

Charles Leclerc has admitted his first Formula 1 race weekends have been made more difficult by Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson's performances

Charles Leclerc: Marcus Ericsson F1 performances 'difficult for me'

While the highly-rated Leclerc is beginning his first year of grand prix racing after graduating as Formula 2 champion, Ericsson is in his fifth season of F1 and his fourth with Sauber.

Ericsson scored Sauber's first points of the season last weekend in Bahrain with a strong drive from 17th to ninth, and he has outqualified Leclerc in opening two races.

"He's a very good driver," Leclerc told Autosport. "He has a bad reputation but I don't think he deserves it at all.

"In Melbourne and in Bahrain, he's very fast, and it's difficult for me.

"But I can learn a lot from him. This is good, and I hope it stays like that."

Ericsson's results have been muted thanks to back-of-the-grid machinery, although he did score points in five races when Sauber was more competitive in 2015.

He is one of the tallest drivers on the grid and last year was held back by a 10kg weight penalty to then-team-mate Pascal Wehrlein.

Ericsson adopted a strict diet and fitness plan over the winter, spent January and February in Spain with his trainer and drafted in expert help to work out how to lose weight without compromising strength.

He lost 5kg in bodyweight and, with Sauber's car also no longer 5-8kg overweight, Ericsson says he is at the target level for the first time.

"It's been a tough winter for me but I've been working my ass off," he told Autosport.

"All my F1 career I've had a weight disadvantage to my team-mate. It's difficult to go up against, you try to say it to people but they don't really take it into account.

"Charles is the strongest team-mate I've ever had. He's very, very fast, but I feel I've stepped it up a lot as well.

"I see this as my big opportunity to show what I can do and how much I've developed over the years as a driver."

Ericsson could have set a record for consecutive F1 starts without a points' finish later this season, having gone 49 races without scoring before Bahrain.

However, his two-point haul means Heikki Kovalainen's 62-start streak remains an unwanted benchmark.

"It's a great relief because I had some very difficult years," said Ericsson.

"You can feel a weight lifting from your shoulders because even though you know the car has not been there to score points, it's what we're here for."

Leclerc's race was compromised when he pitted on lap three after flat spotting a tyre and gambled on a one-stop strategy.

He suffered high degradation on the mediums and made a second stop after all, finishing 12th.

"They saw I was pushing for it [a one-stop strategy] so we tried it," Leclerc revealed.

"I paid for it the hard way because my team-mate scored points with a normal strategy."

shares
comments
Honda 'helping its chances' of landing Red Bull F1 deal for 2019

Previous article

Honda 'helping its chances' of landing Red Bull F1 deal for 2019

Next article

F1 tech insight: The key changes Ferrari made for the Bahrain GP

F1 tech insight: The key changes Ferrari made for the Bahrain GP
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Marcus Ericsson , Charles Leclerc
Author Scott Mitchell
Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola Plus

Why Mercedes isn't confident it's really ahead of Red Bull at Imola

While Mercedes struck back against Red Bull by topping the times at Imola on Friday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, the overall picture remains incredibly close. Despite having a possible edge this weekend, the reigning Formula 1 world champion squad is not taking anything for granted...

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track Plus

What Mercedes must do to keep its F1 title challenge on track

Mercedes may find itself leading the drivers' and constructors' standings after Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but it is well-aware that it came against the odds, with Red Bull clearly ahead on pace. Here's what the Brackley team must do to avoid its crown slipping

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent Plus

Why Tsunoda can become Japan’s greatest F1 talent

While Japan's fever for motor racing is well-documented, the country has yet to produce a Formula 1 superstar – but that could be about to change, says BEN EDWARDS

Formula 1
Apr 15, 2021
Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration Plus

Why the demise of F1's hypocritical spending habit is cause for celebration

For too long, F1's richest teams have justified being able to spend as much as they want because that's the way they've always conducted their business. STUART CODLING says that's no reason not to kick a bad habit

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate Plus

The double whammy that is defining Vettel’s F1 fate

It's been a tough start to Sebastian Vettel's Aston Martin F1 career, with a lack of pre-season testing mileage followed by an incident-packed Bahrain GP. But two key underlying factors mean a turnaround is not guaranteed

Formula 1
Apr 14, 2021
The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition Plus

The diva that stole a march on F1’s wide-bodied opposition

In 2017 new F1 technical regulations were supposed to add drama - and peg Mercedes back. STUART CODLING looks at the car which, while troubled, set the stage for the wide-bodied Formula 1 era

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return Plus

The themes to watch in F1’s Imola return

Three weeks is a long time in Formula 1, but in the reshaped start to the 2021 season the teams head to Imola to pick things up after the frenetic Bahrain opener. Here's what to look out for and the developments to follow at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Formula 1
Apr 13, 2021
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

Formula 1
Apr 12, 2021