Kimi Raikkonen’s stint as Ferrari’s second-longest serving Formula One driver (after Michael Schumacher), ended this morning. He will be returning to Sauber-Alfa Romeo F1 and swapping seats with this season’s newest phenom, Charles Leclerc for the 2019 season.
With his first season in F1 still having seven races remaining, Ferrari confirmed Charles Leclerc as the Scuderia’s newest ace. His early impressive 2018 form massively outperformed team-mate, Marcus Ericsson, bringing Leclerc three Q3 appearances, and taking points finishes in five races, including a sixth-place finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The 20-year-old Leclerc quickly earned the support of former Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne, who was excited to give the second Ferrari seat to the Monegasque driver.
The 2007 World Driving Champion, Raikkonen will extend his career with a two-year contract with the team he made his own impressive Formula One debut with back in 2001.
In a statement, Ferrari paid tribute to Raikkonen’s contributions to the team both on and off the track.
“Scuderia Ferrari announces that, at the end of the 2018 season, Kimi Raikkonen will step down from his current role.
“During these years, Kimi’s contributions to the team, both as a driver and on account of his human qualities, has been fundamental. He played a decisive role in the team’s growth and was, at the same time, always a great team player.
“As a world champion for Scuderia Ferrari, he will always be part of the team’s history and family. We thank Kimi for all of this and wish him and his family a prosperous future.”
Sauber team principal Frédéric Vasseur couldn’t say enough about receiving the services of the current fastest F1 driver in history” thanks to Raikkonen’s magnificent pole position lap at Monza.
“Signing Kimi Raikkonen as our driver represents an important pillar of our project, and brings us closer to our target of making significant progress as a team in the near future,” said Vasseur.
“Kimi’s undoubted talent and immense experience in Formula One will not only contribute to the development of our car but will also accelerate the growth and development of our team as a whole.
“Together, we will start the 2019 season with a strong foundation, driven by the determination to fight for results that count.”