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Wehrlein was 'perfect benchmark' for Ericsson

Pascal Wehrlein, Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, United States Grand Prix
© XPB 

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson believes that spending a full season competing against team mate Pascal Wehrlein in 2017 was the ideal way for him to develop as a driver.

The Swede said that he hadn't been fazed by all the hype surrounding the young Mercedes protégé.

"Pascal is a super-talented driver and it's been really good for me to have him as a team-mate," said Ericsson, who made his Formula 1 début with Caterham alongside Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.

"With all the hype that's been around him being a Mercedes junior it's been perfect for me to have him as a benchmark," he told Autosport.

"If you look at the statistics this year, if you take the average between team-mates, we're the closest ones on the grid. I think that says quite a lot and that's been good for me."

Even so, Wehrlein out-qualified Ericsson on 11 occasions over the course of 18 races together. The German also finished ahead of his more experienced team mate seven times. And Wehrlein clinched all five of Sauber's championship points in 2017.

"Standing on zero points is obviously a big disappointment," Ericsson admitted. "In the end it's points that count, and obviously I haven't scored any.

"Result-wise, it's been not what I wanted. But there have been some good races."

Nonetheless, Sauber opted to release Wehrlein and retain Ericsson alongside highly-fancied Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc in 2018.

Before the team made its decision, Ericsson admitted that he'd endured "a few nervous weeks" wondering if he would be edged out. His management team was busy looking for alternative race seats on the grid, just in case. However none were forthcoming.

"The problem is when you're driving for a team that's at the back of the grid it's really difficult to impress people and to show what you can do.

"Even if I do a really good weekend it means maybe I qualify ahead of my team-mate," he pointed out.

"I need to be in a car that's regularly in the top ten," he continued. "Then you can show your skills.

"I'm ready for that. I've been working hard for that," he insisted. "That's what I need for the next step."

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