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Sauber: Stoffel Vandoorne not a contender for 2019 Formula 1 seat

Stoffel Vandoorne has been ruled out of contention for a 2019 Sauber Formula 1 seat, with Marcus Ericsson likely to be secure if he continues to perform well

Sauber had been mooted as an obvious potential alternative for Vandoorne should he lose his McLaren drive.

He won the 2015 GP2 title with Sauber team principal Fred Vasseur's ART Grand Prix team, and he is managed by Alessandro Alunni Bravi - who is also a director of the company behind Sauber.

But Vasseur has denied that Vandoorne is an option for his team.

"He's not in the discussions," Vasseur told Autosport.

Vasseur insisted he is in no hurry to finalise next year's line-up.

"Honestly we are in the middle of the season. And even if everybody is a bit upset and a bit nervous on the drivers' market, if you compare with previous years, I think everybody is much earlier. So we stay calm," he said.

One Sauber seat is reserved for a Ferrari/Alfa Romeo nominated driver. If Charles Leclerc moves either to the works Ferrari team or to Haas, it is expected to go to Antonio Giovinazzi.

The deadline for a decision on that seat is understood to be October 15.

Ericsson is backed by the same Swedish investment group that owns Sauber.

That does not necessarily means his seat is guaranteed, as the owners have given Vasseur responsibility for driver choice and stressed that overall competitiveness is the priority.

But a third points finish in five grands prix for Ericsson with 10th at Spa last weekend has further strengthened his case.

"He's doing a good job. He was one hundredth behind Charles in quali, with an engine issue," said Vasseur.

"In the race he had a strong pace from the beginning, the strategy was the opposite to the guy in front of us. Marcus did well.

"The best way to keep a position for every single driver in the paddock is to do a good job, and he's doing it."

Ericsson agreed he has to keep performing to keep Vasseur onside.

"It's very important and this time of year it's going to be critical," he said.

"In the last five races I've scored points in three of them and double my team-mate.

"That's the sort of statistic that's important for me to show to Fred that I'm making a difference.

"I need to continue that form because I think it's going to be critical for me getting a contract next year.

"Now the team is getting better and better, and I know the competition for the seats is a lot higher than the last two seasons here."

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