Schmidt Peterson Motorsports IndyCar team hires current Formula 1 driver for 2019
A current Formula 1 driver will be competing in the full 2019 IndyCar Series season.
No, it won’t be Fernando Alonso.
IndyCar’s newest driver is current Sauber F1 driver driver Marcus Ericsson from Sweden as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced that Ericsson will drive the No. 7 Honda in the IndyCar Series in 2019.
Ericsson, 28, currently drives for the Alfa Romeo Sauber Formula 1 team and will join IndyCar after Formula 1's season concludes later this month in Abu Dhabi. Ericsson and current Sauber teammate Charles Leclerc are being replaced for 2019 by Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi.
"It's a great honor to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” Ericsson said. “It feels like a perfect step for me and my career after five years in F1. I can't wait to start work with SPM and all the people in the team which I've heard a lot of good things about.
"They've had some great success over the years, and I'm looking forward to work hard to continue and improve on that path. The racing in IndyCar looks great, and I feel really excited to be part of it in the future. It will be a lot to learn, including new tracks, oval racing, etc. I know it won't be easy, but it's a challenge I'm very much looking forward to and I can't wait to get started."
Ericson, a native of Kumla, Sweden, is a two-time champion (Formula BMW UK, 2007; Japanese Formula Three, 2009) and has twice claimed the Swedish Junior Racer of the Year award (2007, 2009). Ericsson also previously competed in British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2, and currently has 95 starts in Formula 1.
The No. 7 Honda will be his primary focus, but the 28-year-old will remain on Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team’s lineup as reserve driver for its F1 program due to his strong relationship with the team and its partners. Ericsson most recently finished ninth in the Mexican Grand Prix in Mexico City.
“Ric (co-owner Peterson) and I are excited to welcome Marcus to the team,” said SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt. “He has a ton of experience racing in the top levels of motorsports, so we believe that he will be able to contribute to our development program that began in earnest in 2018. While the circuits on the IndyCar schedule will be brand new to him, particularly the ovals, we have a lot of confidence and trust in his eagerness to learn along with his work ethic. We think he and James (Hinchcliffe) will be a good fit to push one another and fight for those wins.”
Ericsson joins series veteran Hinchcliffe, who will continue his appointment in the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda, while British driver Jack Harvey will maintain his part-time ride through the collaboration with Meyer Shank Racing.
The driver of the No. 6 car fielded by SPM, Robert Wickens, is at a rehabilitation center in Englewood, Colorado, as he continues to recover from injuries to his spinal cord suffered in a crash at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 19. Wickens is a paraplegic from the chest down, but because his spinal cord is bruised, instead of severed, he remains hopeful of walking again and returning to racing.