Marcus Ericsson will make his F1 debut at this year’s Australian Grand Prix, partnering fan-favourite Kamui Kobayashi at Caterham. The Leafield-based outfit has an all-new line-up for the up-coming season after ditching Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde.
His appointment came as a surprise to some, after four long and difficult seasons racing in the sport’s feeder series, GP2. The 23-year-old’s career started in the Cadetti series in his native Sweden back in 1999, taking six podiums from seven starts.
His karting career continued through to 2006, where he caught the eyes of former IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner Kenny Brack and ex-Swedish F1 driver Eje Elgh. They helped him move into single seaters, deciding to make the jump to Formula BMW UK with the renowned Fortec outfit.
Ericsson was expecting to challenge for wins by the end of the year, but his debut victory arrived earlier than expected after he secured pole in only his second single seater race. He converted that into a race win and added six more to his tally, along with ten further pole positions, en route to the title.
Despite testing for a number of well-respected British Formula 3 teams, he decided to remain with Fortec for the next step on the feeder series ladder. By the season’s end, he was comfortably the highest placed Fortec runner and finished fifth in the championship, one place behind a certain Mexican Force India F1 driver, Sergio Perez.
2009 saw the Swede make a bold jump to Japanese Formula 3, leaving Europe to drive for TOM’s. It was a tough start, both on the track and the move to Japan, but he won his first race at the sixth round. He took four further victories and won the championship at the final race weekend. He also competed in several guest British F3 rounds, as well as racing in the GP2 Asia series.
That December, he got his first taste of driving in Formula 1 after taking part in the young driver test at Jerez for reigning champions Brawn GP. He also signed a deal to race for Super Nova in the GP2 series.
2010 didn’t get off to the best of starts, with no points scored at the first three rounds. However, he managed to clinch his debut GP2 victory at the Valencia street circuit, following up his first points score on the previous day. However, it proved to be the only highlight from the year and he eventually finished 17th in the overall standings.
For the following season, he decided to make the switch iSport. It was a more consistent campaign for the youngster, in his fifth year racing in single seaters, but he failed to stand on the top step of the podium. Two third place finishes and four other points scores helped him to end the year 10th in the championship.
He remained at iSport for the 2012 season and took one race win, at Spa-Francorchamps, and four further top three finishes to end the year eighth overall. But a change was needed and he eventually decided to make the move to reigning champions DAMS for 2013.
The Swede headed into the season as a title favourite but the first half of the year was simply terrible. It took the Kumla-born racer until the 10th race, at Silverstone, to score his first points finish. He then went on to win the feature race in Germany and added four podiums to his tally by the end of the campaign. However, he finished some way off pre-season expectations in sixth.
Rumours linking him to a drive at Caterham surfaced around the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend, where he was spotted in the paddock. However, the team took its time and eventually announced its 2014 driver line-up in mid-January, with Ericsson joining former Toyota and Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi.
The 23-year-old is certainly a promising young talent, but he has plenty to prove in his rookie F1 season after four rather underwhelming campaigns in GP2.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic