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2018 team and drivers review: Sauber

A look back at how the Sauber drivers and team fared in the 2018 season. For rookie Charles Leclerc, it was a year to remember as he produced some incredible performances and comfortably outperformed stablemate Marcus Ericsson in the end.

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2018 team and drivers review: Sauber
Fuente imagen: MotorLat

Constructors’ championship | 48 points (8th) 

Sauber wrote one of the stories of the season as the Swiss-based team made tremendous progress in 2018.  

A slow start to the season saw them fighting Williams at the back of the field in the flyaway races. Nonetheless, they did a phenomenal job as the season went on and sizeable improvements on the car side + a terrific Ferrari engine allowed them to regularly fight for points and Q3 in the second half of the season. 

If they continue to progress like they did this year, they’ve got every opportunity to be at the head of the midfield in 2019. The team should be very proud of their efforts this year and the amazing headway they made. 

Next year will see a completely new driver line-up with Kimi Raikkonen returning 18 years after making his F1 debut at the team. He’ll be joined by Italian Antonio Giovinazzi.  

Charles Leclerc | 39 points (13th) 

The man who dominated F2 in 2017 came into F1 this year and massively impressed everyone. His stunning performances led to Ferrari signing him for 2019.  

However, things didn’t start particularly well. Maybe not surprisingly, he got outqualified by Ericsson in Australia and Bahrain; but he blotted his copybook with a costly spin in Q1 at Sakhir and did the same in the race at the Chinese Grand Prix. 

Yet, Leclerc completely turned around things at a vast rate of knots. He got into Q2 for the first time at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and drove a very mature, solid race to avoid the carnage and collect his maiden points thanks to a brilliant 6th place finish.  

After not scoring a point in the opening three events, the youngster from Monaco grabbed points at five of the next six races to really get his campaign going. 

As he and Sauber continued to improve, he made his first Q3 appearance at the French GP and ended up a magnificent P8 on the grid. Leclerc would go on to make eight appearances in the final segment of qualifying in 2018.  

Despite initially struggling on a Saturday, he demolished Ericsson 17-4 in the head-to-head and put down a huge marker to show everyone the amazing talent he possesses.  

He delivered in races, too. In 10 of the 21 races, the Monegasque driver grabbed points. Three 7th places at the final three events saw him pip Romain Grosjean to P13 in the championship. To beat a driver in a faster car in his debut season in the sport is some achievement. 

Ferrari decided to take the plunge and put him in their team for 2019. On the evidence of this year, he could well take the fight to Sebastian Vettel next season. It should be a fascinating watch as long as Leclerc’s efforts this year weren’t flattered by having Ericsson as his team-mate. 

He can be extremely proud of his maiden season in F1. 

Marcus Ericsson | 9 points (17th) 

2018 proved to be another difficult year for Marcus Ericsson and it looks set to be his last in F1 as he heads stateside to IndyCar in 2019 after being dropped by Sauber.  

It all looked quite different at the beginning of the season when the Swede kept it solid and consistent. He definitely did a better job in the early stages compared to Leclerc.  

Ericsson drove a really good race in Bahrain to finish P9 from 17th on the grid to grab his first points of the year.  

Unfortunately for the Swedish driver, his campaign started to peter out after the flyaway races at the start of the season. 

He only made two Q3 appearances during the season vs his team-mates eight – and his best result was only P9 (x3), while Leclerc had a 6th and four 7th place finishes to his name.  

Ericsson ended up behind Vandoorne in the standings which tells you how much his year fell away following the strong start.   

There were still some good moments: He put in an outstanding performance in qualifying at Interlagos to be P7 on the grid. Austria was another high point as he drove very strongly and ended the race right behind Leclerc to record Sauber’s first double points finish since 2015.  

Overall though, he was well and truly beaten by Leclerc. For Ericsson to be so comprehensively beaten in his fifth year by in the sport by a (sensational) rookie is why he won’t be on the grid next year. As Martin Brundle said in his column after Abu Dhabi ‘’He's a super guy, but no one is going to look back next year and go 'why isn't Marcus Ericsson on this grid?' ‘’ 

It’ll be fascinating to see how he does in the IndyCar series. 

2018 stats 

Leclerc vs Ericsson 

Points: 39-9 

Qualifying head-to-head: 17-4 

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