Scuderia Ferrari will announce its driver choice for 2019 on Thursday, as reported by the Italian media. At Monza, it was rumoured that after extended internal wrangling, Kimi Raikkonen had been told he will be replaced by Charles Leclerc next year.
That’s despite his success winning pole position for the team at their home race in Monza last weekend, as Kimi went on to finish in second place in the Italian Grand Prix behind race winner Lewis Hamilton. But according to Corriere dello Sport that’s not been enough to save the Finn’s place in Maranello: the newspaper reports that new Ferrari chairman John Elkann has already been in touch with Kimi Raikkonen to tell him that the team is letting him go, despite the fact that Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene and new Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri would have agreed to a new contract for the 2007 Formula One world champion.
Sky Italia adds that a meeting had been scheduled at the team’s headquarters for Thursday at which the news will be formally announced to the media. However, fellow Finn Mika Salo – himself a former Ferrari driver – cannot understand why Raikkonen did not immediately make the news public if Elkann told him at Monza: “I would have expected Kimi to say it himself after Monza, but it didn’t happen,” Salo told Iltalehti.
It emerged at the weekend that former Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne could have already contractually committed the team to running Charles Leclerc in 2019, forcing the current management’s hand over Kimi Raikkonen. The reports hint that Raikkonen’s awareness of his impending departure could have been a factor in how Sunday’s race turned out.
If Kimi does depart Ferrari after a total of eight seasons at the Scuderia, including his title winning campaign in 2007, it’s unclear whether he would want to stay in Formula 1.