After weeks of speculation, Ferrari has finally pulled the plug on the Kimi Raikkonen era, sending the 38-year old former 2007 F1 champion to Sauber in exchange for 20-year old Charles Leclerc.
Despite this being a major downgrade for Raikkonen, the “trade” between the two outfits should benefit both, as Leclerc is one of Formula 1’s most promising young stars, while Raikkonen’s experience should help Sauber during their rebuilding process.
“It has been a great pleasure to support Charles Leclerc in his rookie year in Formula One,” said Alfa Romeo Sauber team boss Frederic Vasseur. “Since his arrival, he has given the team great motivation. We have constantly improved and we will work hard until the end of this season to achieve the best possible result together. We are aware of Charles’ talent and are confident that he will have a bright future. We will keep on following him closely and we wish him the best on his path.”
During his rookie campaign, Leclerc has scored no less than 13 points in the Drivers Standings (with 7 races left to go in 2018), despite having one of the weakest cars on the grid – something his peers have definitely taken notice of.
“The races he’s had so far, he has used his opportunities, scored points with a car that doesn’t belong in the points,” stated Sebastian Vettel, his future teammate at Ferrari.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton has this to say about the 20-year old Monegasque driver: “[He] really has the potential to do great things and you can’t say that about every kid who has come through in the past years.”
As for Raikkonen, he’s joining the very same team where he made his debut all the way back in 2001. Earlier today, the Finnish driver took to Twitter to announce his excitement for being back where it all started for him:
— kimi Raikkonen (@RaikkonenOficia) September 11, 2018
Still, as fans of the sport, we can’t help but feel as though Raikkonen’s “downgrade” is worse than the one suffered by Daniil Kvyat when he was traded from Red Bull to Toro Rosso in exchange for Max Verstappen.