Marcus Ericsson says he is “very surprised” his new deal with Sauber for F1 2016 has been confirmed so quickly.
The Swiss team announced
it would be retaining both Ericsson and team-mate Felipe Nasr on Thursday ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I was very surprised actually that it was this early,” he confirmed to reporters in Budapest. “But the team made it clear that it was very happy with both me and Felipe and wanted us to stay for next year. From my side I am really happy to be able to stay here.”
“Obviously done this early is perfect,” the Swede continued. “It means you can focus only on the performance for the rest of this year and not think too much about next year because you know what you have.
“It is great news and I am really happy.”
Meanwhile, Ericsson added that he is optimistic the team will be stronger in the second half after tailing off following a good start to the season.
“That is the plan because obviously it is not secret that we have lost a bit of momentum - and we are struggling a bit to keep up with the midfield pack. But hopefully, first of all in Spa, with the engine upgrade, it should be quite a decent step. Then in Singapore we have the aero upgrade, which should also help us,” he noted. “Hopefully in the second half of the year we should be back on a level where we can fight for Q3s and for points on a regular basis like we started the year.”
Ericsson also believes the team can continue to make strides in 2016 too: “I can see that the team is pushing hard and already now with Mark [Smith – new technical director] coming into the team as well, they want to obviously progress.
“I think already this year, if you compare to the year they had last year, they have made good progress and if they continue like that, we can be in an even stronger position for next year.”
As for this weekend, Ericsson concedes it could be tricky: “This one is not going to be the easiest weekend for us. But still, at Silverstone, which was going to be the worst track of the year for us, we were running in tenth for a long time. So, I think we need to focus on ourselves and maximise what we have at the moment and if we can do that on a small and twisty track like this, we can be up there in the middle and maybe mix it up with some people. But of course it is not going to be a straight fight for points. I think we need help from some other people [to get into the top ten].”