Marcus Ericsson says Sauber’s reaction to its mid-2017 “disaster” demonstrated its quality, as it gradually crept back towards the midfield.
Sauber struggled through 2017 but made it through to Q2 during the early events, before slipping to the rear of the field, often substantially adrift of its nearest opponent.
Ericsson and team-mate Pascal Wehrlein qualified as the slowest drivers from Austria through Japan, aside from Hungary, when the German inched ahead of Williams’ stand-in Paul di Resta.
Sauber, though rallied, and only narrowly missed Q2 in the US, Mexico and Brazil, with Ericsson heartened by the progress it made, despite the limitations of a year-old power unit.
“I heard the news Sauber was going to use the old power unit,” Ericsson said, reflecting on 2017.
“We knew it was not going to be good. Everyone could see what happened with Toro Rosso [in 2016], so no surprises there.
“Even though you still have to try and look at it in a more positive way and say we’ll focus more on the chassis side, and we did, but for sure it’s going to be a big handicap.
“That’s why also I think with that in mind I’ve been quite impressed with the team and at the factory with the way we’ve been able to keep pushing and not give up.
“After the summer break it looked a disaster really, we were so far off the next car, over a second off per lap, and it was looking really, really bad.
“It would have been easy to give up completely and just think about  for the team but they still kept pushing, in the factory they kept developing and bringing new stuff to the track.
“In the last three or four weekends we were actually in the mix again and out-qualifying people and out-racing people fair and square.
“That’s a big thing for the team and shows the team has a lot of quality both on track but also at the factory.”
Sauber, having formed a partnership with Alfa Romeo, will continue to field Ericsson this year, alongside Ferrari-backed rookie Charles Leclerc.
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