After a promising start to the weekend with a strong FP1 result, the Caterham outfit seemed to fall back on the progress they had made over the past two weekends with a poor second practice. We spoke with Marcus Ericsson after FP2 to get his views on the session and the team’s future.
So you have just come out of your debrief, how was Friday practice for you?
I think it has been a bit up and down, I think FP1 was quite promising for us because we were quite similar on pace with the Marussia’s which is out closest competitor, and also I had quite a good feeling in the car. For FP2 the track improves a lot here and it seems as if we can improve as much as the Marussia’s and our direct competitors, but it was a bit worse for us there. We tried a lot of things and got a lot of information so overall I think it’s been an OK day and leaves us something to build on.
Do you have a sense of what you need to do in order to catch up to the Marussia’s?
Yeah it’s all about traction here. We need to find more traction to get the power down, so that seems to be an issue for most of the teams to be honest when you look at it, so we need to try and look at how we can improve that, we will have to wait and see.
You have some fond memories of this circuit from your GP2 days, aside from the result standpoint what do you like about the Marina Bay circuit?
I really like the whole week here it’s really a nice place to come to and it’s one of my favourites of the year. The track is also really challenging and a lot of fun, and even though it’s a street track you still have high speeds and it’s a great challenge for us as drivers to try and get a lap together, so yeah it’s one of the highlights of the year.
The FIA has announced the ban on certain radio communications and then rolled it back a little bit. How are you finding that in terms of your experience in the cockpit and what you can and can’t ask your engineers?
I think that what they decided about the whole communications ban was the right thing to do because now we take one step, then next year we take another step in the limitations which I think is sensible. Because to change everything in the middle of the season from one race to another would be a bit difficult for us to cope with, so I think they’ve done a good job there. Now it’s a little bit different because we can’t get advice from the engineers from the garage but I don’t mind it, it is what it is.
It puts the focus on your skills behind the wheel doesn’t it?
Exactly and I think that’s a good thing because in Formula 1 the focus needs to be on the drivers, and I don’t mind the changes that tests our skills as drivers.
You had a big upgrade package in Belgium, how does the car feel after the update versus what it was like before?
I think it’s been a step forward and we’ve shown that in Spa and Monza that we are more competitive. In Spa I managed to keep a Marussia behind for the whole race until the end, and in Monza we beat [Jules] Bianchi in the race. The car is a bit easier to drive but we’re still lacking, when you’re behind from the beginning it’s always difficult to catch up. But we just have to see how the car suits different tracks, and we still have some small upgrades coming for the rest of the year and we just have to maximizeour performance.
Singapore kind of has a history of being a lottery race, obviously you’re looking to try and get off 11th place in the constructors’ championship is there the possibility if the circumstances are right to be able to beat Marussia and possibly even Sauber?
These are the kind of races where we get the opportunity because it is a street track and there is a risk for people to make mistakes like we saw today with [Pastor] Maldonado going off. So there are risks for mistakes and that’s good for us because at the moment we have to be fair and say we don’t have the pace for a point, it’s simple, but if we have a good race and maximizeour performance and we take the opportunity we could score a point or two. We need to always have that in our minds.
How have you found the change in structure of the team?
I think it’s been good because before Silverstone we didn’t have any upgrades more or less and we were losing more and more ground to the teams ahead of us. Then the new owners came in and they really pushed on and brought a new energy to the team and brought some updates, so since then we’ve really stepped up as a team.
Yes you could immediately see that in terms of Belgium and Spa, how much the gap had been closed.
Exactly so for me it’s been very good and I really get along well with everyone in the team, I mean the actually race team is still the same so it’s been all positive. Of course it’s sad to see people go because there were some people that had to leave, but as a whole I think the team is moving in the right direction and that’s good.
So have you had the same group around you to help support you with this change?
Yeah the people that I work with it’s been the same all year which is good to have that stability, and then there are some senior management positions that have changed, but the core people who have worked around me have been the same all year.
If you look at what your expectations were coming into the year and how the year has panned out for you, how are you able to look at what you achieved in relation to your achievements?
Overall I think you have to say it’s been a disappointing year for us, we wanted to make the step up and mix it up a bit with the lower midfield teams and we haven’t been able to do that, so that’s been a disappointment. And it makes it more difficult for me as a driver to show my skills, but I think I’ve learned a lot as a driver. I;ve had some ups like Monaco but then there’s been some downs as well like the past couple of weekends haven’t been great for me. But I think today I showed that I can compete, I had Kamui all day on the harder tyre which was really good and on the option until I made a mistake, so I gained some momentum in my driving and I’m able to compete with him for the rest of the season. Because a problem I’ve had all year is the weight issue, I’ve been so overweight compared to him so I’ve lost a lot of lap time there, now we’re starting to get the weight down more and more so we’re not losing too much time. So it makes it a little bit easier for me to compete with Kamui.
How do you find that balance between keeping lean and light without compromising your fitness?
It’s very difficult because it’s such a fine line to be really fit. A place like this is the hardest one of the year, so it is difficult because I’ve been pushing really hard to try and lose weight and I still have to try and keep my strength. There’s a fine line but I’ve got good people to help me out with it and make sure I’m in the best possible shape and as light as possible.
Do you feel like you will remain with Caterham next year?
Yeah for us at the moment the aim is to stay in Formula 1, and we have a really good relationship with Caterham and we’re speaking to them so that would be a great thing, but we have to keep our options open to see if there is anything else for me out there. We just have to wait and see.
Image via XPB Images