There has been much speculation for many months that Charles Leclerc would step up to the Ferrari factory team in 2019, but things changed and it would seem that Ferrari would retain the services of Kimi Raikkonen.
Today the fates of both drivers were confirmed, but instead it appears Ferrari reverted back to the decision that former Ferrari boss Sérgio Marchionne was looking to make.
Charles Leclerc will now partner Sebastian Vettel for 2019 and Kimi Raikkonen will take his place at the team where he made his Grand Prix debut.
Ferrari was the first to make an announcement revealing that Raikkonen would “step-down” at the end of 2018. Raikkonen’s second stint with the Scuderia has been below expectations with the Finn unable to win a single race compared to his teammates 13. He has now been confirmed to be returning to the team that gave him his F1 chance, in Sauber’s press release Fred Vasseur made it clear that Raikkonen will play a key part in their revival.
“Signing Kimi Räikkönen 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”
He returns to the team on a 2-year deal as the team leader, and if he puts in performances like he did in Monza then we may see Kimi at his best next season.
With Raikkonen’s future confirmed, attention then turned to Ferrari and Charles Leclerc and they duly announced the Monegasque driver as Raikkonen’s replacement. Charles has been above expectations this season. He struggled in the first few races but after Baku he has looked the real deal. He is the driver that is going to keep Vettel honest while he develops, and then he will surely challenge for the title himself in the next few years.
Charles Leclerc was obviously elated with the decision made by the team who have supported him through the junior ranks and took to Twitter to thank them:
“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.”
That’s another piece in the puzzle sorted as we continue to predict what may happen next in silly season.
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