Former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he is set to leave Ferrari at the end of 2018 F1 season, confirming a move to the Sauber team. The Finn, who first joined the Scuderia in 2007, won the F1 drivers title with them in his inaugural season with the team. But he is end to bring his two-stint eight-year long association with the team in a move which would see 20-year-old Charles LeClerc swapping seats.
Speaking about the decision, Sauber's Team Principal Frederic Vasseur said, "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.
“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.”
The 38-year-old is the most experienced driver on the circuit in 2018, having entered 287 races till date. He started off his career at Sauber, the team which he will join, in 2001. A strong showing with them earned him a prized move to McLaren, where he put himself amongst the very best. But it was in 2007 when glory finally arrived for the Finn.
After spending five seasons with McLaren, Raikkonen switched to Ferrari. In his very first season, he won the F1 Drivers title, defeating his former employer's drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in a battle which went till the very last lap of the season.
Despite such an amazing result, he could not replicate his form in the coming two seasons, before deciding to leave both Ferarri and F1 for good. But after a two-year sabbatical, he returned with the newly launched Lotus F1 team, wherein he put some wonderful displays for the struggling team.
And his performances didn't went unnoticed, as for the second time in his career, he was swooped by Ferrari. Though, unlike his first stint, where he was the equal partner to Felipe Massa and a regular title contender, this time he played second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel, acting most times than not as the anchor man.