Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson will race for the newly named Alfa Romeo Sauber in 2018, with Antonio Giovinazzi taking on third driver duties for the new season. It has long been expected that Sauber will reveal at least one new driver for the year ahead, however it was with perhaps no little surprise that the Swiss team have retained the thoroughly unimpressive Marcus Ericsson for another season, demoting 2016 GP2 runner up and Ferrari young drive Antonio Giovinazzi to a reserve role and potentially bringing to an end the short Grand Prix career of Mercedes protégé Pascal Wehrlein . Alongside the confirmation of the teams 2018 driving strength would be a very first livery reveal containing the newly secured Alfa Romeo partnership, with the team showcasing a brand new visual concept of what the latest Sauber Formula One colour design could look like in the coming season. Thanks to further strengthening of the Ferrari / Alfa Romeo partnership with the struggling team, the new partnership with the iconic Italian brand (reported here) means that highly rated Ferrari junior and 2017 FIA Formula Two Champion Charles Leclerc will make his full time debut next season, stepping up from his ultra successful F2 campaign into a full time ride alongside Ericsson next season, a role the young 20-year-old Monaco native is plainly relishing ahead of the new year; “I am very happy to be entering Formula One in 2018,” said Leclerc. “First and foremost, I would like to thank Ferrari for their support. I would also like to thank Sauber for their trust and confidence in me as a driver, and look forward to joining the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team for the upcoming season. “It was a great experience to drive a few FP1 sessions and tyre tests for the Sauber F1 Team in 2017, during which the team welcomed me straight away. It is a great working environment, and I already feel confident and comfortable here. In 2018, my aim will be to gain more experience in Formula One, and to bring as much value to the team as possible in return.” Although on face value it would appear all change at Sauber for 2018, the team have decided to keep some level of continuity in the driving strength by retaining Swede Marcus Ericsson for a fifth consecutive season in 2018, surprising many following what has been a somewhat sub standard season for the 27-year-old driver in 2017. With such a highly regarded teammate as Leclerc alongside him next year and with increased funding and attention thanks to the Alfa Romeo link, 2018 really must be a make or break season for Ericsson, something the Swede is all to aware of heading into the Christmas break; “First of all, I would like to congratulate the team on the new partnership with Alfa Romeo,” commented Ericsson. “It is a great honour for me to be driving for this team in 2018, and I am excited and proud to be part of this promising journey. I am confident that I can add to the knowledge and experience of the team. “This winter is going to be very busy, and it will be important to push the development of the car in order to have a good start to the season. I am optimistic, that 2018 can be a big step and a good chance for us to move up in the field.” 2018 could well be the beginning of a return to form for one of the longest established active teams in Formula One racing. Check out the Formula One sub forum here at RaceDepartment for more news from the premier open wheel series in the world. Like what you see here at RaceDepartment? Don't forget to like, subscribe and follow us on social media! RaceDepartment YouTube RaceDepartment Twitter RaceDepartment Facebook RaceDepartment Twitch RaceDepartment Instagram Have Sauber made the right decision to promote Leclerc and retain Ericcsson next year? Who would you like to see in the Swiss / Italian outfit? Will Sauber make inroads into the midfield next season in your opinion? Let us know in the comments section below!