Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on Tuesday announced it has signed Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson to compete full-time in the IndyCar Series in 2019.
Following the remaining two races on the 2018 F1 schedule, the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team driver will shift focus to pilot the No. 7 Honda for SPM next season, teaming with James Hinchcliffe and Jack Harvey (who competes part-time for Meyer Shank Racing with SPM).
“It’s a great honor to be picked as one of the drivers at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and IndyCar for the 2019 season,” Ericsson said in a SPM media release. “It feels like a perfect step for me and my career after five years in F1.
“I can’t wait to start work with SPM and all the people in the team, which I’ve heard a lot of good things about. They’ve had some great success over the years and I’m looking forward to work hard to continue and improve on that path.
“The racing in IndyCar looks great and I feel really excited to be part of it in the future. It will be a lot to learn including new tracks, oval racing, etc. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge I’m very much looking forward to and I can’t wait to get started.”
SPM has agreed to allow Ericsson to remain as a reserve driver on the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team’s lineup due to his long-time relationship with the team.
A SPM team spokesperson told NBC Sports that while Ericsson’s priority will be IndyCar, he would be available for Alfa Romeo Sauber in instances where there would not be a conflict with an IndyCar race, etc.
Alexander Rossi had a similar deal with Andretti Autosport in 2016, where he was also listed as a reserve driver for F1 team Manor Racing, but never drove for the latter team that season.
Ericsson, a 28-year-old native of Kumla, Sweden, is coming off a ninth-place finish this past Sunday in the Mexican Grand Prix, tying his second-best single-race career showing in F1.
Ericsson has 95 career starts in five seasons of Formula One competition. He’s on track to finish a career-best 17th this season.
Prior to his F1 tenure, Ericsson was a two-time champion in Formula BMW UK in 2007, captured the Japanese Formula Three title in 2009, and also competed in the British Formula Three, GP2 Asia and GP2 series.
Team co-owner Sam Schmidt said of Ericsson, “He has a ton of experience racing in the top levels of motorsports, so we believe that he will be able to contribute to our development program that began in earnest in 2018.
“While the circuits on the IndyCar schedule will be brand new to him, particularly the ovals, we have a lot of confidence and trust in his eagerness to learn, along with his work ethic. We think he and (Hinchcliffe) will be a good fit to push one another and fight for those wins.”
The team also announced that the No. 6 Honda “remains open” for the return of 2018 IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Robert Wickens.
Wickens revealed late last week that he has been rendered a paraplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, from injuries sustained in a horrific crash August 19 during the ABC Supply 500 IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway.
Wickens, currently receiving treatment and physical therapy in a rehabilitation facility, said in a tweet that he remains optimistic he will one day walk again.