Alfa males: Sauber F1 announces Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson for 2018
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By:   |  02 Dec 2017   |  8:42 pm GMT  |  45 comments

The new partnership between Sauber and Alfa Romeo will see FIA Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc step up to Formula 1 with the Swiss team for 2018.

Sauber’s new Alfa branded livery concept was also unveiled at the launch near Milan on Saturday, showing off a red and white colour scheme with clear Alfa Romeo signage on the engine cover and rear wing.

The 20-year-old Monégasque driver dominated the F2 championship with the Prema Racing team in his debut year, having won the GP3 Series the previous year with ART Grand Prix.
He has tested for Ferrari and Haas as well as Sauber. He will partner Marcus Ericsson in 2018.

“I am very happy to be entering Formula One in 2018,” said Leclerc.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Ferrari for their support. I would also like to thank Sauber for their trust and confidence in me as a driver, and look forward to joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming season.

“The team welcomed me straight away. It is a great working environment, and I already feel confident and comfortable here.

“In 2018, my aim will be to gain more experience in Formula One, and to bring as much value to the team as possible in return.”

The 19-year old Monegasque driver has participated in four free practice sessions with Sauber, and will challenge current driver Ericsson at the team next year.

Marchionne had pushed for Giovinazzi in the second seat, having earmarked Sauber as something of a finishing school for prospective drivers in the Ferrari Driver Academy. However, thanks to Ericsson’s links to Sauber’s investors, the Swedish driver will embark upon his fifth season in Formula 1, his fourth with Sauber.

Ericsson has scored nine points in his time with Sauber – all coming in the 2015 season – as the team has faced chronic underinvestment over the past few years, leaving points scoring opportunities harder to come by.

“It is a great honour for me to be driving for this team in 2018,” Ericsson said, “and I am excited and proud to be part of this promising journey.

“This winter is going to be very busy, and it will be important to push the development of the car in order to have a good start to the season.

“I am optimistic that 2018 can be a big step, and a good chance for us to move up in the field.”

Sauber principal Frederic Vasseur, who set the partnership with Ferrari in motion having ended the team’s planned link-up with Honda, said: “We are all delighted about the cooperation with Alfa Romeo.

“With Marcus and Charles, we have a strong driver duo for the debut season of the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.

“Marcus is an experienced Formula One driver, who knows the procedures and the team well, after having worked together for the past 3 years. He is a team player, and has a very positive attitude.

“Charles has proven his talent in several racing series, most recently winning the Formula 2 World Championship title. He had the chance to drive in four FP1 sessions and two tyre tests for us this season, and convinced the team with his professionalism and charisma.

“I look forward to going into 2018 with this driver pairing, and I am convinced that they will complement each other very well.”

Giovinazzi will become Sauber’s third driver next season, having served that purpose earlier in the season as cover for the injured Pascal Wehrlein – who injured his back in a crash at the Race of Champions.

In addition, Giovinazzi had participated in seven free practice sessions for the Haas team – also affiliated with Ferrari – but the 2016 GP2 vice-champion has been unable to secure a race seat for next year.

These manoeuvrings leaves Wehrlein out of a drive for next year, and the Mercedes junior driver’s time in Formula 1 appears to be on pause now that the remaining vacant seat at Williams looks increasingly out of his reach.

It is believed that a conclusion to the team’s pursuit of Robert Kubica is expected to be announced in due course, with Williams having tested the 32-year-old Pole at the post-season Abu Dhabi tyre test alongside current driver Lance Stroll.

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How many years can a pay-driver remain with a seat in F1 without scoring a single point? (now two+ years and counting…)


Er, Try 9 career F1 points. All scored with Sauber 2015. You must do your homework…


@Baron, I definitely did my homework.
Last time Ericsson scored any points in F1 was at Monza in September 2015. Hence why I wrote correctly that its now two+ years since he scored any points. He has been in F1 now for 4 years, so evident my formulation was intended. He is also the only driver of all the permanent drivers this season that didn’t manage to score a single point. And last season 2016, he only shared that honor with one other driver namely Esteban Gutiérrez. And the driver scoring the vast majority of the Sauber points in 2015? Was all by now an almost forgotten driver named Felipe Nasr. And he got switched out.
So my question remains valid: How many years can a useless pay driver like Ericsson stay with a race seat in F1 when making no points over the entire season? (now two+ years and counting…)


You are of course quite correct. It seems I was beset by a sudden and rather devastating attack of myopia which completely obscured your parenthesis. My apologies…


No worries Baron, we are all human! ;o)


Great to see Leclerc making the step up. Disappointing to see the unremittingly mediocre Ericsson retained at Giovinazzi’s expense. I can’t understand Longbow’s logic, here. Ericsson just isn’t up to the pace of what is a very quick F1 grid at the moment. It would make more sense for their longer term engagement to back Joel Eriksson, fresh from a very good year in Euro F3. They could get him into F2, name him as test and reserve, get him a few FP sessions and prepare him to take a race seat when one of the Ferrari hotshoes inevitably moves up the grid. That way they’ll have a Swede with some actual talent to shout about – there’s little in Ericsson’s junior career to suggest he’s capable of making it in F1 on merit.


@Kenny .. totally agree. I find it interesting that team principal FV referred to Ericsson only in the capacity of having experience and a team player. In contrast when speaking about Leclerc, FV used the words ‘proven talent’,’winning’,’professionalism’,’charisma’. Reading between the lines FV knows he is stuck with a dud. Hopefully Sauber’s investors will wake up one day and make room in the team for a more deserving ‘proven talent’.


Can they leave that incredibly good looking car how it is for next year and not put that horrible Halo on it.

Tornillo Amarillo

Jake, I understand that Ericsson benefits from the money of the team’s owners… but how those owners can benefit from Ericsson? For a fifth year? Is there a relative link? What’s the point?
You buy the seat for your son and there are nothing to explain… Who is the parent of Ericsson?


Good Question Tornillo,
Clearly there’s more money than driving talent… shame that it means Wherlien or Giovinazzi miss out.


It’s an odd one, and it almost seems counter-intuitive that Ericsson’s backers are so reticent to put themselves out there. I recall that the people behind Tetra Pak were presumed to be involved, and as such an F1 link would make sense in B2B relations. For example, there’s a great example from a McLaren case study, where their partnership with GlaxoSmithKline helped to streamline GSK’s factory floor processes:

I’d perhaps imagine there to be something like that, but I don’t know where Ericsson fits into the mix. It’s just one of those things, perhaps.

Tornillo Amarillo

OK thanks Jake, so it’s a mystery.

Tornillo Amarillo

Sauber’s new Alfa branded livery concept was also unveiled at the launch near Milan on Saturday, showing off a red and white colour scheme

Dear Sauber, could you see that the white doesn’t match the beatiful red?

I suggest invert the colors white with a blue line for a nice blue with a white line.
The car mainly blue and red will work better.


I’m guessing that those colours were chosen because they’re the national sporting colours of Switzerland 🇨🇭
And of course the Red ties in with Italian racing red.

Gareth (the Philadephia one)

Can we do a GoFundMe to buy advertising space for “It is I…” on Leclerc’s car?


Is he 19 or is he 20? Or did he have his birthday half way through writing this?


He actually got younger throughout the article.

Surely Leclerc’s management can supply a non-mug-shot photo of him instead of this one that is favored here that looks like he just visited Colorado.
Is there one with an Alfa Suit?


I think it’s just plain wrong and lame for a car manufacturer to plaster livery all over a car with an engine of another car manufacturer. If it’s not an Alfa Romeo, it shouldn’t act like it’s one.


FIAT own Ferrari (Formula 1)
FIAT own Alfa Romeo (Formula 1)
FIAT own Maserati (Formula e)

So the Ferrari engine is essentially a FIAT and so is the Alfa Romeo engine. I think it’s far better than a Tag Heuer branded Renault for example.


that’ll be a TAG Heuer badged Renault in an Aston Martin Red Bull… now that’s just plain ridiculous!


So is the engine in a Wiliams a Martini? Do HAAS Automation supply the auto motion? I have no idea who Sahara are but I’m pretty sure they don’t supply the engines to Force India.

Alfa Romeo is the Sauber Team’s title sponsor, same as with many other teams, that doesn’t means that they supply the engines


Seeing as Alfas use a large amount of Fiat parts in their I don’t see a problem with Alfa stepping up and using Ferrari tech for their race effort. See the VW/Skoda/Seat/Audi/Bentley/Porsche system. Also Rensult/Nissan, Maxda/Ford, Fiat/Chrysler/Lancia and Toyota/Lexus.


VW/Skoda/Seat/Audi/Bentley/Porsche system NOT FORGETTING LAMBO’s


FYI: Mazda/Ford thing is over for some time.


Sauber’s new Alfa branded livery concept was also unveiled at the launch near Milan on Saturday, showing off a red and white colour scheme with clear Alfa Romeo signage on the engine cover and rear wing.

Would have been nice if the article could have included some pictures of the new livery.


First off James, that title? leave that to the little leagues, you’re above that. Same with the other Lagunda story, hideous and certainly cringeworthy to see on this great site. That being said, the Alfa livery looks great, hopefully they’ll sort out the chassis and denote Hass and STR.


I am disappointed with the decision of retaining Ericsson over Giovinazzi as I feel he is the better one. This team has a well balanced car for midfield with current engine and technology transfer by Alfa romeo, perhaps they will be very close to Haas F1 tean and Torro Rosso.


Technology transfer from Alfa? You mean Ferrari of course?


Both Ferrari will give them new engine and Alfa romeo will provide tech staff and money of course. As far as i understand about the deal.


Giovinazzi had not one but two big crashes, that probably didn’t do him many favours with Sauber. It’s a harsh world stepping up to F1 and I think that damaged him quite a bit.


Has it ever been discussed/explained why Sauber preferred to ditch a full works deal as the #1 Honda team for an advertising/badging Alfa exercise as the #2 (or #3) Ferrari team?

Honda is obviously an embarrassment, and that doesn’t help. But Sauber is not in the same place as McLaren.

Seems like the long-term investment Honda would’ve made in Sauber could’ve been a game-changer for the team.


Sauber was on the path, then someone decided they wanted Alfa Romeo in there, suddenly an offer you can’t refuse is made.

I actually find it interesting that we get this early team launch…that’s what this was, right?


Sauber have been there before with BMW. Perhaps the memory of that reduced their enthusiasm for the deal. If Honda drop out again they don’t have Red Bull to prop them up financially.


I wonder how this affects Haas? I always thought their model was to get as many parts as possible from Ferrari and pin them to a Dallas chassis.


So Giovinazzi and Wehrlein have both been overtaken in their respective young driver programmes. Love seeing the young guns struggling for supremacy, good luck to Charles, (how many french drivers is that now?) shame Ericsson is in the other car though….


Still 3, Leclerc isn’t French ☺


Roe, oh yeah, it even says Monegasque in the article! Still a bit French though…..


Delighted to see Charles get an opportunity in F1. Hopefully the Sauber will be a more competitive car next year with the up to date engine. He was 20 on the 16th of October btw James


First, welcome to the site Jake. I don’t think anyone said “hey” since you’ve arrived.

Second, nice one with the Alfa Males. We like that kind of funny around here. Do you think it will be a Bromance? Is there a driver names Romeo in F2 or F3? Or are you saying we lack female drivers in F1?

Would Shakespeare say that driving an Alfa Romeo Giulia is a tragedy?

Since I brought Shakespeare into this…with the storied history of Alfa Romeo in F1 with driver championships and victories will this latest chapter of Alfa Romeo in F1 be a tragedy or a comedy?

That concludes my highly speculative questions.

Aloof mare
A mare fool

Male or oaf?
Fear a loom

Am fool era
A lame roof

Arm of aloe
Ale or foam

Amoral foe
Am oaf role


Thanks, and hi! I can’t take the credit for the Alfa Males headline, that’s James’ pun wizardry. I’m taking the Lagonda one though…


I understand that alfaromeo sauber will be packing 2018 Ferrari engines in 2018? Do we see that pushing them off the back row into Q2? Or even Q3 at a push? Or do we reckon they willl be running around with haas, after all they have contemporary ferrari engines?
2018 seems set to be interesting, will Mclaren be solidly challenging for wins with Renault? Will sauber finally move forward? Will RB be able to mount a serious title challenge at last? What are peoples thoughts?


One of the main ways the manufacturers can get what they want post 2021 is to give Liberty what they want asap…a closer grid.

Watch for that to become a thing now for the last 3 years of this PU and most importantly 2018/2019 as the negotiations are taking place. This whole Alfa Romeo thing is a win win for Sergio. He gets more leverage and Liberty get another manufacturer. Maybe Mercedes customers will get some better software for 2018 too.

By the way, isn’t it interesting that Ross is saying he wants 3 more manufacturers in F1? What does that tell us? Clearly that they will talk a tough game for us but yield to manufactures as they pay the bills and draw the viewers apparently. Turns out we want brands.


Happy to see Leclerc joining the 2018 grid. Exceptional talent.

Jamie MacPherson

BBC are reporting that Kubica to Williams isn’t as screwed down for 2018 as others suggest. Be curious to know your thoughts James?


I think he might be struggling to get the money together

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