Scuderia Ferrari has officially announced that Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen will be leaving the Maranello team at the end of the current season, opening the door for Charles Leclerc to move to Ferrari for the 2019 Formula One championship.
Charles Leclerc, who currently races for Sauber, will therefore partner Sebastian Vettel, as Scuderia Ferrari confirms its line-up for next season.
Kimi Raikkonen spent five years with the British team McLaren, before joining Scuderia Ferrari in 2007 and winning the World Championship that same year. He left the Maranello team at the end of 2009, spending 2010 and 2011 competing in the World Rally Championship and NASCAR. Kimi then returned to Formula 1 with Lotus in 2012, where he spent two seasons. He rejoined the Scuderia in 2014, finishing eleventh in that year’s championship. In 2015 he was fourth and in 2016, he finished sixth. The 38-year-old Finnish racing driver has scored nine wins for Ferrari and races 144 Grands Prix for the Italian side, ahead of the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix.
Coming into Formula 1 as the 2017 F2 champion and a Ferrari academy driver, hopes that the young Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc would impress were high. He was expected to outperform his more experienced Swedish team-mate Marcus Ericsson and has proven extraordinary by multiple standards. Leclerc has managed to not just deliver, but shine. The numbers speak for themselves — he has scored 13 points this season, including some stellar qualifying performances. Leclerc has decisively beaten not just his teammate (Marcus Ericsson) race after race, but also several other more experienced drivers on the grid and the Scuderia was keen to reward him with a faster cockpit, thanks to this season’s results.
Ferrari are a team that are fighting for two titles and aren’t renowned for signing young, inexperienced drivers, but Charles Leclerc is definitely a gamble worth taking for Ferrari.