Washington - Swedish Formula One driver Marcus Ericsson,
never better than an eighth-place finisher over five F1 seasons, will jump to
IndyCar next year, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old racer who made his F1 debut with Caterham in
2014 will drive a Honda-powered IndyCar entry after racing four Sauber the past
four seasons, this year for Ferrari-powered Alfa Romeo.
"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," SPM co-owner Sam Schmidt said.
Ericsson has made 95 F1 starts with races yet to come this
season in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. His top finish was eighth in the 2015 season
opener in Australia. He had five top-10 efforts that year but topped it with
six top-10s this year, including 10th in the United States and ninth at last
Sunday's Mexican Grand Prix.
"It's a great honor to be picked as one of the drivers
at Schmidt Peterson," Ericsson said. "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."
Ericsson will remain a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo Sauber
next year but is excited to race in IndyCar.
"The racing in IndyCar looks great and I feel really
excited to be part of it in the future," he said. "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
Ericsson will be a teammate of Canada's James Hinchcliffe,
set to start his ninth IndyCar campaign and fifth with Schmidt Peterson with
his most recent of five series wins coming this past July at Iowa.
British racer Jack Harvey has a part-time ride with the team
while the team holds a spot for Canadian Robert Wickens, who was paralyzed in a
crash at Pocono in August, should be ever want to return.
Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso of Spain had considered
making a move to IndyCar next year as well but decided against it, although he
said a one-off drive at the Indianapolis 500 was "a possibility."
"I thought it was too demanding next year," Alonso
said. "I don't know about in the future, but next year the commitment of
the 17 races, it was too much. That dedication and that amount of work that you
need to put into that series to be competitive, starting from zero, I felt it
was too much."