Sauber confirms Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson as 2018 race line-up

Sauber has confirmed Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc will race alongside Marcus Ericsson next year, while also unveiling the new livery for its partnership with Alfa Romeo.

Though Leclerc has been expected to fill one of the seats for a while now, there had been a question-mark over who would partner him in 2018. That speculation ended on Saturday at an event in Italy where Ericsson -- who had been up against Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi for the seat -- was confirmed for a third season with the team.

Giovinazzi's chances seemed to have been raised by news of the Alfa Romeo deal, with speculation Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne was keen to make it a fully-fledged junior team. However, Ericsson's close ties to Sauber owners Longbow Finance appear to have edged it. Instead, the Italian will be Sauber's third driver, effectively meaning he is in a reserve role.

It's been a busy year for Sauber. The team parted company with former team boss Monisha Kaltenborn, who was replaced by Frederic Vasseur, before abandoning a Honda engine deal which had been agreed earlier in the season. That was promptly followed by a deal with Ferrari for 2018. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place during Abu Dhabi's post-season tests, when it confirmed a title partnership deal with Alfa Romeo -- bringing the legendary Italian marquee back to F1 after a 33-year absence.

The news leaves Pascal Wehrlein's hopes of securing another F1 drive with Williams, though Robert Kubica remains favourite to be Lance Stroll's teammate, which is the only remaining slot on the grid for next season.