Both Sauber Formula 1 drivers are facing the prospects of getting pushed off the grid following Sunday’s finale in Abu Dhabi.
It is almost certain that Charles Leclerc, a Ferrari junior and the newly-crowned Formula 2 champion, is replacing Pascal Wehrlein for 2018.
When asked about the possibility, Wehrlein remained optimistic that he would return next season in some capacity.
„I don’t know,“ the German said. „But I don’t think that this is my last Formula 1 race.“
It is not believed the Mercedes-linked Wehrlein is a major candidate for the Williams seat, but he could either become a reserve driver next year or return to DTM.
„It is still unthinkable that I won’t race next year,“ he said in Abu Dhabi. „Racing is my priority, and preferably in Formula 1.“
Another strong rumor is that Marcus Ericsson could also lose his Sauber seat for 2018, despite his strong links to the Swiss team’s current owners. The Swede admitted that Sauber is his only option.
„The chance is good, but unfortunately nothing is decided, which feels strange at the last race of the season,“ Ericsson said.
The rumor gaining the most traction is that Ferrari is pushing Sauber hard to accommodate its other junior driver, Antonio Giovinazzi. It is expected that Sauber will also be sponsored by Ferrari-linked luxury carmaker Alfa Romeo in 2018.
„I understand that there are talks with Ferrari about how big the collaboration will be, and I know that Ferrari wants to have two drivers on the team,“ Ericsson said. „That’s my main concern right now.“
The Leclerc-Giovinazzi-Alfa Romeo rumors come amid chatter that an official announcement could be made by Sauber this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
Ericsson couldn’t provide much in additional details.
„I have not signed anything, so if they make an announcement, that’s not good news for me,“ he said. „My management (team) is keeping the options open and has contacts with other series.“