AUSTIN, TX – There aren’t many places where Marcus Ericsson is going to have an advantage at in 2019. See, the former Formula One driver is new to North American race tracks. Most of the tracks on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule, he’s never been to. Prior to last Fall, he’s actually never been in an IndyCar before either.
So, forgive him if it takes some time to adapt to the series.
Despite all of that, he does have an advantage at one place – Circuit of The Americas. Where most of the IndyCar paddock has never been to the 3.41-mile Texas road course before, Ericsson has actually raced here before.
The Sweden native has made not one, not two, not three but four starts at COTA He did so in an F1 car at that. His most recent start in 2018, he finished 10th.
Now, he’s back in an Indy Car on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week which is why it’s not surprising that he’s so fast out of the gates.
“It’s going to be a bit strange because all the other tracks are going to be new for me,” said Ericsson after completing 51 laps on Tuesday. “I’ll be the expert of this track, if you compare to the other guys in IndyCar. It’s a bit different.
“But, yeah, I try and make that to my advantage. Hopefully that will mean that I will be, yeah, strong on this race weekend.”
Ericsson, 28, warns that these two days of on track testing may take away his advantage though.
“I’m sure these two days of testing here will get everyone up to speed so that won’t advantage won’t be here for the race weekend.”
Ericsson, calls COTA one of his favorite tracks on the F1 schedule already. He says that this was always a very strong track for him in the past which gives him high hopes for the return in late March.
After a few tests now under his belt, he has a fuller grasp on the comparison between an F1 car and IndyCar. COTA is a perfect spot for him to compare the two.
“So far it’s been really good,” said Ericsson. “It’s a fun series. Very open, like a big family is the feeling. A lot more open than Formula 1, from my experience there, between teams and drivers.
“Also I’ve been looking back at some of the races from last year. The racing looks very much fun to be part of, really close racing. I’ve done a few days now in the IndyCar. It’s a really fun car to drive.
“You go quite a bit slower in the high-speed stuff because you have less load there, less downforce. You need to adjust that. For me, that’s the biggest difference. The F1 car with all the downforce, it’s more direct in the high-speed stuff. You have to sort of take that into account.
“The rest, I would say the IndyCar is moving around more, so you need to sort of play with the car more, with the steering, the pedals. You have to work harder to get around the track with IndyCar, which I think is enjoyable and also challenging.
“I think F1 is more on rails, so to say, and the IndyCar is definitely moving around a lot more. It’s a different type of challenge. You need to sort of tackle it in a different way.
“Both type of cars on this track is really enjoyable to drive.”
Ericsson, says that he believes an IndyCar is actually harder to drive than one in F1 and that the driver clearly makes a bigger difference over here.
“It’s changing a lot more the balance from corner to corner compared to an F1 car, where you have all the tools to tune it for every type of corner,” Ericsson continued. “As a driver, you can make more of a difference I believe in an IndyCar because it’s a more difficult car to drive, in my opinion.
“It’s difficult. It’s very different to a Formula 1 car. Definitely a big challenge.”