Marcus Ericsson has described Sauber’s current position in Formula 1 as being in a “completely different world” compared to 12 months ago. 

The newly-rebranded Alfa Romeo squad has made significant progress both financially and on the track heading into 2018 and currently occupies ninth place in the constructors’ standings, having already recorded 11 points more than it did during the entirety of last season. 

Sauber has scored points at three of the last four rounds - including a two-car finish inside the top 10 in Austria - while at least one driver has progressed into either Q2 or Q3 at ever race since the Spanish Grand Prix in May. 

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When asked to compare the situation to 12 months ago, Ericsson replied: “It’s a massive difference. “I think just coming from the financial side first of all, now the financial platform is a lot stronger, and everything builds from there. 

“And we’ve brought in some great people on the team, and people in the team have grown motivation with everything that’s going forward.’

“Now we’re in a completely world to 12 months ago and it’s great to see. I think it’s impressive to see the way we have developed as a team in 12 months and it’s a great reward for all the hard work being put into the team.”

The Swiss outfit is 12 points clear of Williams and just three points adrift of eight-placed Toro Rosso. Ericsson insists he sees no reason as to why Sauber should start falling back down the order as the season progresses. 

“I don’t see a reason why we should be dropping back more than other teams in the midfield,” he said. 

“That’s been our way this year that we bring updates more or less every race, not big packages, but bits and pieces all the time to keep improving the car and as far as I understand that’s what we’re going to keep doing.

"Compared to the midfield, which we are fighting, we should be able to do the same development, and then at some point you switch focus more and more on next year.”