Times are changing at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Marcus Ericsson knows he’s running out of opportunities to prove he should be a character in the team’s next chapter.
Not guaranteed a seat at the new-for-2020 Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Ericsson faces a tryout period of sorts that effectively began at Pocono Raceway last weekend in the first race since the announcement of McLaren Racing’s forthcoming partnership with the NTT IndyCar Series team co-owned by Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson.
Ericsson’s situation is admittedly less complicated than that of James Hinchcliffe, given that he lacks a manufacturer alliance that could prove problematic as the team trades Honda power for Chevrolet. Still, an average finishing position of 15th through his first 14 IndyCar races could convince the McLaren-branded team to look elsewhere to fill the car piloted by the Swede during his rookie campaign.
Thus, the former Formula One pilot has the remaining events at World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland International Raceway and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca to prove to the evolving team that he belongs.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” Ericsson said Friday regarding a simple return to the team for a second go-around in 2020. “I think these final races are very important for me. As far as I know, the team has not made any decisions on the driver lineup. It’s all very important now for me to really show what I can do on the track. Every chance I get to go out there on the track, it’s an opportunity for me to show what I can do.
“Yeah, that’s all I know. But for me, my goal and my desire is to be in IndyCar next year — 100%. I love the series. I love the racing. I want to be here for a long time. That’s my goal.
“For sure, these last three races are going to be very, very important for me.”
Lackluster performances to conclude his first season in North America’s premier open-wheel championship wouldn’t be the only factor threatening a return alongside a second to-be-named driver at the Arrow McLaren outfit. The allure of driving for the McLaren brand plus the brand’s resources have given McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown as well as Schmidt and Peterson plenty to ponder entering 2020.
Felipe Nasr tested for Arrow SPM days before the McLaren news and could be welcomed as a full-time driver — perhaps to pair with Ericsson, as he previously did at Sauber’s F1 team. Colton Herta’s name has surrounded the possibility and now actuality of a year-round McLaren presence, but the forthcoming conclusion of his DPi drive in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has brought another young American into conversation: Colin Braun.
Finishes of seventh at Barber Motorsports Park and Texas Motor Speedway plus a standout second-place result in Detroit highlight Ericsson’s first season Stateside to this point. More of that in the three contests that remain would help his chances of seamlessly slotting back into the team that gave him a new home. Coming within 0.0366 seconds of the fastest lap in his first race-weekend session at World Wide Technology Raceway is a good start.