Sauber better than it looked in Barcelona – Ericsson

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson says the Swiss F1 team is in better shape than pre-season testing laptimes suggested.

Sauber better than it looked in Barcelona – Ericsson
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36
Marcus Ericsson, Sauber C36

The Swiss outfit, which opted to use year-old Ferrari power units for the coming campaign, was slowest among the F1 2017 crop in Barcelona pre-season testing – with the C36's best lap, set by Ericsson, some three seconds off the pace.

Talking to the media ahead of the F1 season opener in Melbourne, Ericsson conceded Sauber hadn't gone as quickly as it would've liked in testing, but insisted the C36 was more competitive that it might have looked.

"For sure, we would have liked to be faster," Ericsson said. "What I can say from testing is that I've felt that we didn't really have a good balance in the car.

"We have quite a bit of time [to find] if we can get the car to feel a little bit better for us drivers."

"I think [in Melbourne] we can be a little bit more competitive than we looked to be in Barcelona, let's put it that way.

"We had some challenges to get the car balanced in the testing and I was struggling quite a bit with the balance between the front and the rear of the car. So I think if we can get that - we already have some ideas that we are going to try here tomorrow in practice and hopefully that will help."

Ericsson also noted Sauber ran heavier than usual in Barcelona, which would have contributed to low-key laptimes.

On where Sauber stood in the pecking order, he said: "I think we are in the lower end of the midfield. The midfield this year seems to be a very big group of teams.

"For me, it's always very difficult to read in testing but from what we can see from our analysis, it's obvious the three top teams which have a bit of a gap to the rest and then the midfield seems to be quite bunched up.

"And we are in the lower part of that midfield, but we should be in it."

Year-old engine a question mark

While it propped up the timing sheets, Sauber was fourth in the mileage rankings in Barcelona, logging laps with the familiar 2016-spec Ferrari unit amid issues in the Renault camp and the troubled run of McLare-Honda.

Ericsson believes the reliability factor could allow Sauber to sneak into the top 10 on Sunday in the F1 season opener in Melbourne, but the Swede admits he doesn't know how big a factor the year-old engine will be as the campaing progresses.

"We are pushing on hard on the car and we absolutely knew for a long time that we are going to have a one-year-old engine," he said.

"Then the question is how much of a disadvantage that will be. That's also very difficult to read from the testing because we don't really know what engine settings people are running. It's almost impossible to say.

"I think that will be interesting for us this weekend to see from the start where we stand compared to the others in top speed and stuff like that and then we'll know.

"Second half of the season, we should be at a bit more of a disadvantage because of the engine - but we have what we have so we cannot focus too much on it because it's not something we can change."

Additional reporting by Scott Mitchell

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