F1 fans’ reactions: Charles Leclerc to Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen to Sauber confirmed
Leclerc will drive alongside Vettel next season while Raikkonen returns to Sauber on a two-year deal
One of Formula 1’s worst-kept secrets has finally been officially confirmed: Charles Leclerc is replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2019.
In a run of breaking news stories today, Ferrari announced that Raikkonen was stepping down from his role at the end of the 2018 season. Sauber then confirmed that 38-year-old Raikkonen was rejoining them on a two-year deal.
And finally, Ferrari announced that Monegasque ace Leclerc would join Vettel in their 2019 driver line-up.
Finnish driver Raikkonen raced for Sauber in his first year in F1 in 2001. He later won the World Championship with Ferrari, in 2007.
Sauber are yet to confirm who will drive alongside Raikkonen next year.
What the drivers said
Leclerc tweeted: “Dreams do come true... I’ll be driving for @scuderiaferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship. I will be eternally grateful to @scuderiaferrari for the opportunity given. To @nicolastodt for supporting me since 2011.
“To my family. To a person that is not part of this world anymore but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules, thank you for all the things you learnt me, we will never forget you, and to all the persons that supported me and believed in me.
“I will work harder than ever to not disappoint you. But first, there is a season to finish with an amazing team that gave me the opportunity to fight and show my potential. Let’s go @SauberF1Team.”
Raikkonen tweeted: “Guess who’s back? Next two year with @SauberF1Team ahead! Feels extremely good to back where it all began.”
What the teams said
Ferrari on Raikkonen: “During these years, Kimi’s contribution 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 on Leclerc, via Twitter: “#CongratulationsCharles. Good luck at @ScuderiaFerrari @Charles_Leclerc. It’s been a pleasure to support your first #F1 season. Now on to your next challenge.”
Frédéric Vasseur, CEO of Sauber Motorsport and team principal of Alfa Romeo Sauber, on Raikkonen: “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 1 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.”