S o a team has seldom made an ascent . At the start of the season at the Australian GP, Sauber fought for the last places with Williams. The Swiss were happy to have at least made it into the field after a year in no man's land. Twenty Grand Prix later, the Sauber drivers Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc are in 6th and 7th position on the grid. The Sauber drivers have often featured in the top ten on the grid, but for the first time this season, the current eighth was the constructor -WM the fourth force in the field.
The Sauber had already made a decent impression on Friday, but that they would qualify in the end before the HaasF1, which was rated higher, astonished the drivers too. “The HaasF1 were faster than us all weekend. We expected to land behind them, ”admitted Leclerc. But then the Ericsson team fine-tuned the setup on Saturday night and Leclerc's team understood the car a little better. “Marcus immediately put in a strong lap in Q1, so I was challenged. So we rocked each other up and found an extra tenth here and there, ”Leclerc explains the surprise.
Leclerc's trembling game
Ericsson was a candidate for the top ten through the entire qualification. The Swede drove his best training ever. “The changes helped especially in the second sector. Somehow it hooked on me from the first lap. That's important when things get so close in midfield. There's a fine line between being kicked out in Q1 and getting into Q3. '
For Leclerc, the Q2 was a tremendous game. The Monegasse had braked its tires in the first attempt and was faced with the elimination. When the team finally sent him out, he went out on the track with little hope. “The tires were used, had a flat brake, and there were a few splashes of rain in places.” While everyone else deteriorated in this phase, Leclerc managed to climb into Q3. “I honestly didn't expect to improve. When I did, I screamed into my helmet with relief as I did before. 'HaasF1 team boss Guenther Steiner admitted:' We should have sent Magnussen out too, but thought it was pointless because it kept raining. There is only one out of the ordinary, and that was this unbelievable Leclerc. ”
The next masterpiece was shown by the prospective Ferrari driver in his first Q3 attempt. He approached him with used tires. And was faster than Romain Grosjean on fresh tires. The increase on his last set of new supersoft rubbers did not materialize. “I made a mistake on the last corner. That's why I don't want to speculate how much faster I could have been. Marcus just did a great job today. I'm not frustrated that he beat me. ”
Ericsson's best Formula 1 year
Leclerc explains the Sauber miracle with the fact that the C37 was a good base from the start that you understood the car better after three races and that many good development steps were brought to the car over the course of the season. “The whole team did a fantastic job.” The fact that team manager Beat Zehnder is already considering Force India, which is 11 points ahead, is a bit bold, but Leclerc also says: “We have overtaken Toro Rosso and have to look for new goals . And they are right before our eyes. ”
Marcus Ericsson reminds Sauber that he too had a part in the upturn. “We were on the ground with Williams in Australia. Then we improved a lot as a team and I was part of it. Looking back, I have to say that I drove my strongest Formula 1 season. ”Ericsson will still leave the premier class for IndyCar. “I'm not going to close the Formula 1 door, but I'm now looking forward to the IndyCar series. It's a long-term project. Still, I want to get the last few races over the stage as well as possible. The team should miss me a little too. ”