IndyCar: Key detail left out of Marcus Ericsson announcement

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Autosport, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The move that everybody was waiting for became official when Andretti Autosport confirmed Marcus Ericsson for the 2024 IndyCar season. But one important detail was left out.

For the last several weeks, it was heavily rumored that Marcus Ericsson’s run with Chip Ganassi Racing, which most notably includes a victory in the 2022 Indy 500, would be coming to an end at the conclusion of the 2023 IndyCar season.

Amid rumors that Linus Lundqvist is set to take over behind the wheel of the No. 8 Honda next year, Andretti Autosport have made the long-awaited announcement that Ericsson is set to join the team in 2024, officially bringing an end to his four-year run with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ericsson finished in sixth place in the championship standings in both 2021 and 2022, and he currently sits there with three races remaining on the 17-race 2023 schedule. He is one of just four drivers with at least one race victory in each of the last three seasons.

The 32-year-old Swede has been one of the most consistent drivers on the grid since securing his first win on the streets of Belle Isle in June 2021, having finished lower than 11th on just five occasions since that race.

That consistency and stability is exactly what Andretti Autosport have lacked over the last several seasons. One of Michael Andretti’s entries, the No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Racing Honda has just a single top 11 finish since the 2020 season finale.

However, it has not been confirmed which car Marcus Ericsson will drive in the 2024 IndyCar season, and that could be a big deal.

Everybody knows that Devlin DeFrancesco won’t be back behind the wheel of the No. 29 Honda in 2023, so it would make sense for Ericsson to take over that ride.

Having said that, that was not confirmed as a part of Andretti Autosport’s announcement, meaning that Ericsson could also technically end up behind the wheel of the No. 28 Honda.

While a contract extension was once seen as a matter of when, not if, for Romain Grosjean, a recent streak of eight straight finishes outside of the top 10 and a plummet from fourth to 12th place in the championship standings has some believing that he too will be on his way out.

As Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports driver David Malukas remains heavily rumored to be Andretti Autosport’s fourth driver for next year, does the formal confirmation of Ericsson spell trouble for his fellow former Formula 1 driver?

Additionally, sponsorship was not announced as a part of Ericsson’s deal, and that could also be significant amid rumors that DHL could end their 13-year partnership with the team and look elsewhere, having not found victory lane as a primary sponsor since 2018.

One of the main reasons why Chip Ganassi Racing and Ericsson ended up in the situation they did is because longtime Ericsson backer Finn Rausing was said to be done bringing sponsorship beyond the 2023 season.

Ericsson believed he deserved to be paid like a top driver, while Chip Ganassi reportedly wanted his lone Indy 500 winner in the last 11 years to continue to bring funding as a pay driver.

While Chip Ganassi Racing were said to have offered Ericsson a contract extension, there is no telling whether the damage was already done — or if the offer was even worth Ericsson’s consideration.

In the release, Andretti Autosport stated that “more information on Ericsson’s 2024 entry, including car number and partners, will be provided at a later time”, indicating that a decision on Grosjean’s future will be made in the coming weeks.

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Malukas himself stated that an announcement on his future will likely come after the season ends and that the confirmation of Ericsson does not impact his plans for 2024, meaning that a move to Andretti Autosport is still a good possibility.