French motor sport engineer and manager Fred Vasseur, who is currently the managing director and CEO as well as team principal of the Switzerland-based Sauber Motorsport AG, has said the return of Kimi Raikkonen will be a major bonus on both the technical and commercial side.
Kimi is effectively swapping places with junior Charles Leclerc, who will take up his seat alongside Sebastian Vettel at Scuderia Ferrari, whilst Raikkonen will return to the team he started his F1 career with. Some have questioned The Finn’s motivation for the switch, but for Sauber the advantages are clear according to Vasseur.
“Clearly Kimi has huge experience in F1,” said the Frenchman. “For the team, we are building up every single department and I think he will be very supportive in the process. I think from aero to design office to track engineering, tyre management, I think everybody in the team is more than welcome to have Kimi on board in the future. It’s a step forward for us for sure. This is on the technical side and on the marketing and commercial side, for sure it’s a huge push and if you have a look at what we had last week in terms of social media – so it was probably the first time in our lives that we have so many connections. On both sides, I think it will be supportive for us. I was not there [when he previously drove for Sauber] but some guys came to my office saying ‘ah, superb that Kimi’s back.’ But I don’t want to consider the fact that Kimi’s coming back, we have to think about the future, not about the past.” – he explained.
As for Kimi Raikkonen’s team-mate, that remains a mystery, with Sauber yet to confirm if Marcus Ericsson will retain his seat, but Vasseur said a decision would be made “quite soon”.
“The last two weeks for me have been a bit of a rush on the driver market. After Singapore we will sit down with all the persons involved in the discussions and we will take a decision quite soon because I think it’s also good for the team to have a clear answer but it will be soon.”
Marcus Ericsson, current reserve Antonio Giovinazzi and McLaren outcast Stoffel Vandoorne are understood to be in contention.