Sauber retain Nasr, Ericsson

Source:Reuters Published: 2015-7-23 23:48:02

Raikkonen key to impending driver merry-go-round

Sauber removed Brazilian ­Felipe Nasr and Sweden's Marcus Ericsson from any speculation about their immediate Formula One futures by ­announcing Thursday that both will race for them again next season.

Some media talk had ­already linked 22-year-old Nasr, who has been impressive in his rookie season, to former champions Williams should Valtteri Bottas move to Ferrari as Kimi Raikkonen's replacement.

"We are pleased about the extension of the contracts with Marcus and Felipe," Sauber principal Monisha Kaltenborn said in a statement at the Hungarian Grand Prix, the 10th of 19 races this season.

"This early point in time shows that the drivers and the team are sure they are heading in the right direction ...  Both have shown solid performances, gained experience and learnt quickly."

Nasr, a former Williams ­reserve driver, has made a strong start in Formula One and finished fifth on his debut in Australia.

He has scored points in three of the nine races so far.

"It is great to be driving ­another season for the Sauber Formula One team," he said. "The extension to the contract ... is an important step in my career."

Ericsson, 24, made his debut with now-defunct Caterham in 2014 but scored his first points in Formula One with Sauber in Australia, where he finished eighth. The Swede also scored a point in China.

"I am getting to know ­everyone within the team more and more, and feel I am ­being ­appreciated as a valuable driver," said Ericsson, who like Nasr brings important funding to a team that has struggled ­financially and is still fighting for its future.

Raikkonen is seen as the key to the impending driver merry-go-round, with Ferrari yet to decide whether to retain their 2007 world champion for one more season alongside four-time champion Sebastian Vettel.

Fellow-Finn Bottas has been tipped to move to Maranello, ­although Ferrari are sure to have other drivers on any shortlist. If he does, there will be plenty of candidates jostling for the vacancy at Mercedes-­powered Williams.

Champions Mercedes have both double world champion Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg under contract for next season and are in no danger of being distracted by the increasing speculation about who goes where.

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