Exiting Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson has secured a seat in INDYCAR for 2019 replacing the injured Robert Wickens at Schmidt Peterson Motorsport (SPM) next season.
The Swede is set to lineup in the Honda-powered entry alongside Canadian James Hinchcliffe who will enter his second season in the American open-wheel series for 2019.
“It’s a great honour to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” expressed Ericsson. “It feels like a perfect step for me and my career after five years in F1.
“SPM has had some great success over the years, and I’m looking forward to working 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.”
The move stems from Sauber booting out the 95-time race starting driver in favour for Ferrari Academy driver Antonio Giovinazzi. Meanwhile, his current Formula 1 teammate Charles Leclerc swaps with Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari for next season’s campaign.
Ericsson acts a replacement for Robert Wickens at his new SPM outfit who sustained serious injuries to his legs, spine and right arm from a 340 km/h multi-car accident at Pocono earlier in August.
Marcus will run in the #7 machine used as a wildcard entry by SPM in May’s Indianapolis 500 with Hinchcliffe sticking with his #5 car. The team remains enthusiastic Wickens will make a return, however, Robert himself has admitted that he is “far away from walking on my own.” The #6 entry will still be reserved for the Canadian if he is able to make a comeback sometime next season.
“Ric (Peterson) and I are excited to welcome Marcus to the team,” added 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.”
SPM’s 2018 campaign have indeed proven they’re able to challenge for more victories in the near future sweetening the deal for the departing Sauber driver.
The Indianapolis based team claimed nine top-five finishes this season plus a win in Iowa with Hinchcliffe pipping Australian Will Power who qualified on pole position.
Robert Wickens also proved his craft within the team securing INDYCAR’s Rookie of the Year award with two third-place finishes and a runner-up placing in Mid-Ohio while being absent for the final three races.
The 2019 INDYCAR series returns on March 10, 2019, at its traditional season-opening venue in St. Petersburg, Florida where a seventeen round series will feature all the way into September.
Images via Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team and Schmidt Peterson Motorsport