By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. – Marcus Ericsson has been given the nod to be Alfa Romeo Racing’s reserve driver in Formula One for the Belgian Grand Prix, forgoing IndyCar’s Grand Prix of Portland.
With the sudden news coming out of left field, ARROW Schmidt Peterson Motorsports issued a brief statement regarding Ericsson’s absence at Portland.
“Following a request from Alfa Romeo Racing of Marcus Ericsson to be on the ground at this weekend’s Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, ARROW Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has granted Marcus a release from his driving duties for the NTT IndyCar Series race weekend in Portland. Conor Daly will pilot the No. 7 ARROW SPM Honda at this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland.”
The news was broken early Thursday morning with initial reports suggesting he may compete at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, but it’s not the immediate case.
Hours later, Kimi Raikkonen, who’s scored 31 out of the 32 points for Alfa Romeo, was reported of pulling a muscle during the summer break and have Ericsson on standby.
An injury won’t keep Raikkonen down and out as he’s intending to of going the distance at Spa, a race he’s won four times. For now, Ericsson’s only role is being the team’s third driver.
Alfa Romeo consists Raikkonen and of Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, who replaced Ericsson.
After 12 rounds, Giovinazzi has only scored one point at the Austrian Grand Prix and tied with Robert Kubica for 18th in the Driver’s Championship. Raikkonen on the other hand, has shown tremendous consistency as he sits 8th in standings.
In 15 NTT IndyCar Series races at SPM, the 28-year-old Swede only has a podium from the second race at Belle Isle, where he finished runner-up to Scott Dixon.
Outside of Belle Isle, Ericsson has an additional two top-10s with a pair of seventh place runs at Barber Motorsports Park and Texas Motor Speedway and sits 17th in points.
Prior to moving to the world of Indy car racing, of which he hopes to continue competing next season, he’s made 97 F1 starts from 2014-18 with an eighth at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix proving to be a career best when he drove for the then Sauber F1 Team.
Back in the states, Daly will be in Ericsson’s No. 7 Honda at Portland International Raceway.
Daly tweeted that he’s looking forward being back in an SPM car as he drove three races back in 2015, filling in for the injured James Hinchcliffe. Those races were Toronto and both Belle Isle races, where the second race he led 12 laps and finished sixth.
“I look forward to fulfilling the substitute role again this weekend, this time for SPM,” Daly said. “I lead my first laps in Indy car back in 2015 while piloting the No. 5 car. We will miss you Marcus, I will do my best to keep the No. 7 at the front.”
It’s Daly’s third team he’s raced for this season with the others being Andretti Autosport and Carlin. In his five NTT IndyCar Series starts, with four being at Carlin, a sixth at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway last Saturday was his best result.
No doubt a true momentum builder and perhaps a possible shot of competing for a McLaren SPM ride heading to the penultimate round of the Indy car campaign.
Daly’s SPM ride at Portland will be a one-off however as he’ll run the fifth Andretti car in the championship finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca September 22.
The Grand Prix of Portland will commence Sunday, September 1 with live coverage beginning at 3:00 pm EST on NBC. Green flag will drop at approximately at 3:45 pm EST with the race being 105 laps.