F1 2014 Driver Review: Marcus Ericsson


Marcus Ericsson

Team: Caterham F1 Team
Car No.: 9
Races: 16
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 0
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 19th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Much like Esteban Gutierrez in 2013, Marcus Ericsson’s rookie season may not have been that notable, but he did make some definite strides forward as the year wore on, even if they were not reflected in his results.

Coming up from GP2, Ericsson’s best outing of the year came at Monaco when he finished 11th in a race of attrition, matching Caterham’s best ever result in Formula 1. That would be the peak of the season, though, with the Swede not returning after the Russian Grand Prix when Caterham folded.

Amid all of the financial uncertainty that engulfed Caterham, Ericsson has managed to land on his feet, securing a seat with Sauber for 2015. People may point to his wallet, and although this will have played a part in it, if paddock speculation is to be believed, it is perhaps not as big as many may assume.

It may have been an unspectacular first season, but Ericsson deserves a second bite of the cherry in 2015. However, he must take full advantage of this chance – very few drivers escape the bottom-feeder teams.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Swede Marcus Ericsson had some marginal moments in his debut season of Formula One but like many others for either Caterham or its prior iteration as Lotus, wasn’t all that noticeable throughout the season.

The highlights included his near points-score in Monaco with 11th place and a handful of times he was best qualifier in the four-car Caterham/Marussia battle. Outside of Russia though, his 16th and final start this season, he never broke out of Row 10 on the grid, and fell towards the back as the year progressed.

Only one of his five retirements was from an accident, and that was excusable in Hungary given the race’s mixed conditions. But he made several mistakes in practice throughout the year, and those incidents probably set him back a bit. It also wasn’t a good look for him when Andre Lotterer – who hadn’t sat in an F1 car in more than a decade – turned up at Spa and outqualified him by nearly a second. With full-season teammate Kamui Kobayashi, a deficit was expected, but not against the German in his debut.

Ericsson has garnered enough funding for a second chance with Sauber in 2015 and with a full year of racing under his belt, will enter as de facto team leader over rookie Felipe Nasr. He did just enough this year to merit another season, but will need some true breakout performances next year to assure his long-term future.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)