Crash.net
Marcus, ahead of your second season in F1, how are you feeling coming into 2015?

Marcus Ericsson
I feel very good. Thinking of myself, if I compare myself to one year ago when I went to Australia, it's like a different world. The different preparations I've been able to do over the winter and also increases in testing has been very good and also myself, having one years' experience has made a big difference just in my own feeling going to Australia. So far, I'm really happy and I can't wait to get to Australia and get the season started.

Crash.net
Where do you think Sauber stands compared with its rivals following testing?

Marcus Ericsson
It's very difficult to say, but I think for us just looking at ourselves, we've had a very good pre-season with a car that's made good steps from the previous year's car and also the power unit from Ferrari has made a good step over the winter as well. For us, it's very positive, we feel that we've made good progress with this year's car and the whole package which gives us a positive feeling. But then, always testing in Formula 1, it's so difficult to know what people are doing, so we cannot really be sure. For sure, we're going to aim to fight for these points and fight in this group of cars that are behind the top teams. That's got to be the aim. If that's possible or not, we'll see in qualifying in Australia.

Crash.net
How much do you feel the Ferrari engine has come on and where does it compare with the Mercedes power unit?

Marcus Ericsson
It's difficult to compare because you never really race anyone here in testing, but I think just driving it you feel it's more powerful and it's also better on drivability and all these parts. So they've made a good step, much better than I expected I think. Overall, that's been really positive. Then with the others have big steps with Mercedes and Renault have done, I don't really know. It's very difficult to know when you're in testing what the others are doing. Not sure about that but for sure we know ourselves that we're making good steps.

Crash.net
How has the Sauber developed over the winter from the car you drove in Abu Dhabi?

Marcus Ericsson
I think we made good progress with the car. We've brought some updates, but mostly also we've been able to scan a lot of different step ups and that's led us into some good direction with the set-up of the car. I think we've made good progress from day one to where we are now. On that side, the car is very nicely balanced now and it gives loads of confidence to me as a driver. When I'm doing longer runs I can be very consistent on the lap times because I know what the car is doing all the time. On the set up side, we've made some really good progress because we've been able to run so much. The car has been working really well with not many issues, so it means we've been able to go through so many things that we've had planned. That just gives us a lot of confidence of course.

Crash.net
Given where you were last year with Caterham and the troublesome Renault power unit, how nice is it to have a productive pre-season?

Marcus Ericsson
It's a massive difference. For me as a driver, it's such a nice feeling to have this pre-season behind me because I feel really confident in myself and my driving and also in the car. I know exactly how the car behaves and it's a different world compared to one year ago when I went to Australia because there were so many question marks in my head going to Australia last year. Now I feel really calm and it's focused on doing the job when we get there. It's a very different feeling.

Crash.net
You said yourself that the Sauber call was a bit unexpected and it happened very quickly - can you explain exactly how it came about?
Marcus Ericsson
We were doing the best we could with Caterham, doing all the race preps and normal stuff with Caterham and then from one day to the other, the team suddenly closed down which was a big surprise for us. We obviously knew that they were struggling a bit on the side, but I would never have expected them to close down when they did, so that was a big surprise. But then obviously, that led us to push harder for other opportunities for 2015 and I think I have to say my management did a really good job to get a deal with Sauber. I think a week before Austin, Caterham closed down and I had still already my flights to Austin. So I thought I'd got there anyway. I went there and never dreamed that I would have a deal by the end of the week down in Austin for 2015. Never, never could have dreamt about that. And then it went really quickly, just in a couple of days we suddenly had a deal. For me, there was no doubt, it felt so right and also a team like Sauber with the story they've had with young drivers, it sounded like the perfect opportunity for me.

Crash.net
What was the atmosphere like in Caterham when its troubles became so public?

Marcus Ericsson
To be honest, it didn't affect me and my closest group of people in the team that much because we were always focusing on doing what we could do - trying to make the car as fast as possible and doing as good a job as possible on the race weekends. It's a good example of how it all happens in the end because I think the day before the team closed down, me and my engineer, we were talking on the phone for one and a half hours, speaking about Austin and planning what we were going to do, what set up we were going to try and we were really preparing for that and then the next day they called us up to say 'its all done'. It didn't affect us that much, even though of course it was terrible outside the track and its difficult not to see what's going on. It was also a good exercise for me as driver to be able to jump in the car and just focus on my job and not care about what's going on around.

Crash.net
How many positives can you take from a difficult season like that?

Marcus Ericsson
I think last year was very difficult but I learned a lot from it and it made me stronger because it was a very difficult year and also the beginning of the season we had a lot of issues with me being quite a lot overweight with the car, and then quite a lot of issues with the braking system which I didn't get to work.... It was a lot of things making it really difficult and I was far off on the times compared to my team-mate - it was a very difficult situation. As you get to F1 as a rookie, you want to prove what you can do and show your potential and I couldn't really do that for different reasons, and it was mentally really, really tough. But when I look back on it, I was really happy that I was focusing on myself and pushing hard, not getting negative, trying to be positive and doing the best that I could all the time and in the end it paid off. I had a really strong three races before the team closed down where I think it saved my F1 career a bit. I think without these last three races, I don't think it would have been possible to get to Sauber. For me when I look back at it in the end, it was a tough year but positive.

Last three races?

Yeah, I think first of all it was experience. Getting into everything and we didn't have much of a pre-season, so the first part of the season was like pre-season for me when we were racing. And then, it's getting the team to listen more to me. Obviously I had a teammate who was very experienced, so naturally they were listening more to him at the beginning of the year, but when I gained more experience, I could get more people to listen to me and what I thought was going to be better for me as a driver. And we did some development on the car, even though it was a difficult time for the team, we managed to bring some updates and the brake system was a big thing for me. I was struggling all year with the brakes and not being able to maximise the braking performances. Finally in the end, we went a completely different way with the way we were work with the brake wire system and it just worked a lot better for me and gave me a lot more confidence in the driving. And all these small things added up to me getting my confidence back with the driving and feeling like the car would do what I wanted and then bam, suddenly, the rest of it was coming. So it was really great for myself as well to see that I could do it.

Crash.net
As a driver that has established himself through Caterham - and the current state of the smaller teams -, how important for F1 that they are still present?

Marcus Ericsson
I think it's very important. I think F1 have always had smaller teams and that's been fighting it out and being there and like you say, its been a perfect place for young drivers who come into F1 to gain experience. You've seen many drivers from Minardi for example who are operating in Formula 1 and a lot of great drivers who have started in Minardi and got experience there before they went onto bigger things, so I think it's important for F1 to try and keep the smaller teams alive because it's part of Formula 1.

Crash.net
Do you think you'd be sat here without Caterham?

Marcus Ericsson
I haven't really thought about that, but maybe not.

Crash.net
So how does Sauber compare from an organizational level?

Marcus Ericsson
It's quite a big difference. I think when I got to Sauber you can really feel the difference in personal experience in the team. They've been around for a long time and also the construction team is a lot stronger. Everyone know what they need to do and what areas they work with. Whereas in Caterham you could feel they were a young team, not a strong structure. A lot of people trying to do something good, but it was a bit too much in different directions, you know. So that's a big difference here in Sauber and I think also you're looking at the factory and facility that Sauber has compared to Caterham, it's a different world, so it's very impressive at Sauber. It's top class facilities, so for me it's been a big step up and I've been really pleased so far to see how they operate as a team and everything.

Crash.net
How much have you learnt with Sauber in the time you have been here?

Marcus Ericsson
I've learnt quite a lot. It's just a bigger team and they know more how to do stuff and how to help the driver prepare for the driving and everything. It's been quite a big step up and I've already learnt quite a bit.

Crash.net
Is the Sauber C34 a car that is capable of winning points in Australia?

Marcus Ericsson
It's difficult. For sure, that's what we're going to aim for. We've said from the start we want to be back on a level where we fight for points because that's where Sauber have been every year in F1 apart from 2014 when they missed out. They have the facilities and potential to be a car that's fighting and scoring points and that's where we aim to be. If that's in Melbourne or not, we don't know but of course we hope and we aim for that.

Crash.net
As a second year driver, do you feel some pressure to beat rookie team-mate Felipe Nasr?

Marcus Ericsson
I think always in F1 the team mate is the first one you get compared to - which is normal. It feels really good so far, Felipe is a good driver. I've been driving quite a bit against him in lower categories and we've always feel very close on pace in general, so I think we're going to push each other really well and I think it's most important that we can work together in a good way which I think if we're working really good in the pre-season. We've discussed a lot of things about the car together so, so far it feels good and like I said, I think we'll be able to take the best out of each other.

Crash.net
There has been a big emphasis on young drivers recently with Max Verstappen coming in. I remember interviewing you when you were just 16 in the Formula BMW series. Can you imagine stepping straight up to F1 at that age?

No. For me, that would have been... I would not have been ready at that age. For me, I learnt a lot in my junior categories and it's been very important for me. All the different teams you work with and all the experience that you get from that has been very important to shape me as a driver. But times change, and everyone is different, so we will see this year. I have no idea. But I'm sure he's [Max] very good, otherwise he wouldn't be here. But just looking at myself, it's been very important to me all my junior years.

Crash.net
Finally, Sauber's targets are fairly clear, but what would it mean to you personally to be getting into the points for the first time?

Marcus Ericsson
It will be difficult, but of course I want to score my first points in F1. That would be not only a dream, but also an accomplishment or whatever, you're not only part of F1, but you're also performing and scoring points. For me to score my first points would be a big, big goal for me personal... if I can do that, who knows what will happen?

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