Marcus Ericsson reveals he sacrificed his own race in Formula 1 Mexico Grand Prix to help Sauber teammate Charles Leclerc secure track position.
Both Ericsson and Leclerc started on the used hypersoft compound as they qualified inside the Top 10. They ran for 19 and 16 laps respectively when they pitted for supersoft compound on which they saw through the whole race.
The Swede stayed out for three more laps as he was keeping the faster cars of Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez and Renault’s Carlos Sainz behind so that they lose the place to Leclerc when they decide to pit later on.
The ploy was successful as they managed to keep Perez behind and with Sainz’s retirement, Leclerc was able to gain a place and have track position. The team then opted for a one stop as they completed a double points finish.
While Leclerc finished seventh behind Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg, his teammate lost a place to McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne to be ninth. The positive aspect of the team work was that they managed to topple Toro Rosso by three points for seventh.
“The plan was just to help Charles’ race basically,” said Ericsson. “I was just sacrificing my race completely to help him. I wanted to box many laps earlier because I knew I was throwing away my race.
“But for the team and for Charles I had to try and keep these cars behind to help him open the gap. So I did that for the team, but it was frustrating because it felt like I was throwing away my chances of points.
“Then on top of that we had a problem in the pit stop and we lost nine seconds in the pits. So with all that I came out after my pit stop and I was 15 seconds behind the next car in last.
“So I thought it was over, and still I managed to do a second stint that was unbelievable, with the pace and I managed to keep the tyres alive. And then when I got all this pressure from the Toro Rossos and from Ocon.
“All these guys putting massive pressure on me – and still keeping them behind. I don’t really know how I managed to do it, but I did and I’m really, really happy about it. “I think that’s one of the things with me, I’ve always been a team player.
“I’ve always done everything for the team, I always put the team first and I think that’s one of my abilities that people value a lot and I will always do that. I think I did that in a very big way.
“I think even Charles acknowledged that as well, that I helped him a lot in the race. He even thanked me after the race, as he knew that without me he would not have been able to do that race. So that’s what I did and it was good for the team.”
The Swede though admitted that it wasn’t the best of feeling when the team asked him to back his teammate up but in a crucial phase of the season where points are important, he took the call and did what was asked from him.
A ninth place finish meant he has now equaled his season’s best result. He scored the same amount of points in 2015 and remarkably most of his race finishes have been ninth (4) and tenth (6) with just the one eighth place finish.
Leclerc acknowledged Ericsson’s help as another seventh place finish brought him two points behind Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly and four behind Haas’ Romain Grosjean in the drivers’ championship.