Marcus Ericsson makes switch to IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson

Marcus Ericsson will race in the IndyCar Series next year, taking over Robert Wickens’ seat at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Ericsson’s move stateside comes after Sauber firmed up its 2019 Formula 1 line-up of Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari academy driver Antonio Giovinazzi.

Wickens was IndyCar’s best rookie in 2018, taking pole on debut, but is currently undergoing a long recovery after a horrific crash at Pocono in August.

Ericsson will be team-mate to Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who will start the second year of a multi-year contract extension.

“It’s a great honour to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” said the Swede.

“It feels like a perfect step for me and my career after five years in F1.

“I can’t wait to start work with SPM and all the people in the team which I’ve heard a lot of good things about. They’ve had some great success over the years, and I’m looking forward to work 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.”

SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt added, “Ric (Peterson) and I are excited to welcome Marcus to the team.

“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 will be a good fit to push one another and fight for those wins.”

The team has also confirmed that Ericsson will remain linked to Sauber as its test driver, while Jack Harvey will continue as an IndyCar part-timer in a partnership with Meyer Shank Racing.

Ericsson’s Honda-powered Dallara will race as #7, which was used by SPM last year and for an Indianapolis 500-only entry this year, with #6 set aside for Wickens’ potential return.

Wickens recently admitted on social media that he is “far away from walking on my own.”

However, after confusion over his self-description as a “paraplegic,” he advised that he holds out hope of walking again given that his spinal cord is bruised rather than cut completely.

“Since my spinal cord injury was ‘incomplete’ the nerves may be able to find a way back to my legs,” the 29-year-old explain in a statement.

“Incomplete means the spinal cord was not severed, it was only bruised. In months time the swelling will go down and we will learn more on how much nerve regeneration happens.

“The doctors have told us every SCI is different. Two people with the same injury may heal differently. One may walk again and one may not. Each body heals differently. So we can not tell you a definitive answer if I will walk again. But I have full intentions of doing just that!”

The first official test of the 2019 IndyCar Series takes place at Circuit of the Americas on February 12-13.

Ericsson’s F1 season continues in Brazil on November 9-11, at which he will arrive 17th in the drivers’ championship.

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