After spending the last several years in Formula 1, Marcus Ericsson will be making the switch to the NTT IndyCar Series with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. POPULAR OPEN WHEEL recently caught up with the Swedish driver to get his thoughts entering the season.
POPULAR OPEN WHEEL: What are your thoughts going into the season?
MARCUS ERICSSON: I’m super excited. It’s a completely new chapter and new challenge for me, obviously coming from five years in Formula 1. It’s a big change, but I’m super excited. I have a great team in Arrow SPM – a great bunch of people, and I’m also coming into a series that I feel it’s really on the up at the moment. There’s a lot of good drivers, good teams, and sponsors coming into the series. So at the moment, it’s a high amount of excitement going into the year.
POW: Schmidt had a big announcement last week, announcing the increased partnership with Arrow. What are your thoughts on that?
MARCUS: I thought it’s great for the team. I think a company of the size and what kind of company Arrow is, I think it’s great news for the team to be teaming up with a company like that. Also, the fact that they’re coming in and becoming the title partner of the team, and sponsoring both cars, it means they’re in it for real and a long amount of time.
Also, being a tech company, we see a lot of areas where we can take advantage of their knowledge and hopefully help us on track. It’s a great partnership, but also a great opportunity to improve the team as a whole. It’s a great step for the whole team.
POW: Why do you feel IndyCar is the right fit for you for 2019?
MARCUS: It’s going to be a big challenge for me, but I’m going in with a very open mind. It’s a proper driver series, being a one-spec series and that’s something that I’ve been missing in Formula 1, where it’s about what car you’re in, or team you’re in. Of course it is like that in IndyCar as well as there’s different bigger and smaller teams. But at the end of the day, everyone has the same car to work from, so it comes down to the way you work with your team and the way you drive the car. That’s something I’m really excited about.
Also, every weekend, you have a shot at winning a race and fighting for the podium, and that’s something that I’ve been missing in Formula 1. But I’m also humble for the challenge as this is some guys that have been here for a very long time and know the series, the tracks, everything, and for me, everything is new. So it’s going to require a lot of hard work, but I’m ready to do that to be successful.
POW: What are your goals and expectations?
MARCUS: Since everything is so new for me, it’s difficult to know how long it will take to get into everything. But I have a personal goal to win a race this year. That will be a great achievement, and then aiming for the top-five in the championship. I know it’s a tough goal to set for yourself, but I’m not coming here to make up numbers; I’m coming here to be successful and if you don’t aim high, you’re never going to do that.
So that’s my two big personal goals coming into the year, and then we take it from there. But like I said, I’m really hungry to do well and show what I can do. I think with this team behind me, it’s possible.
POW: What track are you most looking forward to?
MARCUS: It’s impossible to not say the Indy 500. it’s such a special race. It’s one of the biggest sports events in all categories. So to be able to participate in that will be extremely special, and something that I can’t wait to do.
Apart from the Indy 500, there’s some other great races that we’re going into – like Laguna Seca, Road America. Also, going to COTA (Circuit of the Americas) with IndyCar will be fun as it was one of my favourite tracks on the F1 calendar. So that’s going to be a lot of fun, as well. There’s a lot of things to look forward to, but for sure the biggest one is the Indy 500.
POW: What is one track that you wish was on the IndyCar schedule that currently isn’t?
MARCUS: I would love to go to Australia and race. I always enjoyed the Melbourne race in Formula 1, and I think – especially with IndyCar having been to Surfer’s Paradise for quite a few years ago and now being talked about as coming back on the calendar, I think that would be something that would be extremely cool to do. I hope that happens in the future because I feel that’d be a great place for the series as well to expand outside of America.
POW: Looking back on the Formula 1 career that you’ve had to date, what are your reflections?
MARCUS: I’m proud of what I did. I had five tough years running with back of the grid teams most of it, and in a series where it’s so much about what car and team you’re in, it’s difficult to show what you can do when you don’t have a car to do it. So it was a lot of hard work and tough years because of it, but I still managed to get some good results and some good points so I’m proud of that.
I wish I would’ve been in some stronger cars to really show my ability. So it’s a bit mixed feelings, but I’m still proud of what I did in Formula 1. I have no regrets. I think I gave my all every single time that I was out on track and at the end, that’s all I can do.
POW: Would you like to one day go back to running F1 full-time?
MARCUS: I haven’t closed the door yet. I think it’s a big step going to America and now racing in IndyCar, and I see that as a longer term project. I don’t see myself just here for only a year; I want to be here for a long time and be successful. But with that said, I don’t want to close the Formula 1 door either. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the future so let’s see how it goes in America, but like I said, I don’t want to close any doors.
But to be honest now, it’s not something that I am thinking a lot about. I’m just excited about the challenge in America with IndyCar and that’s all my focus is on at the moment – to get up the speed here and be successful.
POW: Who is your racing hero?
MARCUS: Growing up, I was watching a lot of Michael (Schumacher) in his glory days in Ferrari so I would say Schumacher would be one of my heroes growing up. But also, it may seem weird being a racing driver, but I was watching a lot of Moto GP as well and a big fan of Valentino Rossi. So I think them two were my favorites growing up.
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