Marcus Ericsson has shared his first thoughts after driving a IndyCar with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports which he feels needs more work from a driver than Formula 1.
The Swede finished off his F1 assignment with the Abu Dhabi GP late last month and flew to Sebring in the United States of America to prepare for his IndyCar debut in 2019 with Honda-powered SPM outfit alongside James Hinchcliffe.
He spent the initial days watching the cars run by Team Penske before getting his first taste and straightaway he could feel world of difference between IndyCar and F1 – the latter being more perfect with the latest technology than the former.
For Ericsson, driving a IndyCar was more taking back to his roots and igniting the passion of racing. He did not undermine F1 as such but felt it was becoming more ‘artificial’ with all the latest developments coming onto the cars.
“As a driver, you have to work this car a lot more,” admitted Ericsson. “F1 always starts from perfection, whereas here you have to deal with the car you have and then sort of perfect it. It’s a lot more work from the driver. That’s the biggest difference.
“I’d never seen these cars live before. It was cool to see the other guys [Team Penske] go out. The car looks really cool. I’ve watched a lot of clips on the internet to prepare myself for this. To be here today and also have Penske here is a perfect spot for me.
“This sort of gets me back to why I fell in love with racing. F1 is always going to be F1, you know? But it’s sort of a bit artificial in some ways. You always go to these perfect places, and that’s not racing, I would say. This takes me back to the passion of racing.”
Having raced in F1 for so long, Ericsson is certain that his experience will only add to the already professional SPM outfit in the coming years. “I feel like I definitely have stuff that I can bring from my F1 experience to help us as a team to move forward.
“But I also think the team is really at a high level. I’ve been impressed with the way they work and the preparation they do before a test with all the prep on the setup side. That’s been quite impressive,” he said.
The team were impressed with Ericsson as well after the initial tests – although they admit he needs more time to adjust coming from F1 especially from the technology point of view where IndyCar needs more effort by the drivers as alluded to.
“I’m totally impressed with his outlook on this test,” said Taylor Kiel, SPM’s general manager. “It’s difficult for a driver to come into a test and not be focused on the lap times, right? Just to get in the car, understand it, really take the time to understand the nuances.
“How you come into pit lane, what you do when you’re in pit lane, and what you do when you leave pit lane — all of the things we’re going to ask him to do on track. He’s responded very quickly to that.
“To the layman, this car looks similar to an F1 car, but it’s such a different animal. There’s no power steering, there’s way less downforce and the brakes coupled with the downforce are not as good in an Indy car.
“So there are a lot of things that he needs to get used to and that he’s working on doing today. So far, so good. The learning curve is going to be steep, but he’s very well-prepared mentally to attack that right now.”
The learning programme for Ericsson will continue and he will test again in January to prepare for the first race in March. The biggest hurdle will be to get into grips with the car on ovals circuits and also perform well in his first-ever Indy500 event.