2007 Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen has opted to make a switch from Ferrari back to Sauber at the end of the current season. The 38-year-old will be replaced by Sauber’s Charles Leclerc. Raikonnen started his Formula 1 career with Sauber about two decades ago and 20-year-old Leclrec too made his F1 debut with Sauber this season after winning 2017 Formula Two title. It’ll be 16 years after Raikonnen left Sauber. It was in the year 2001 when he first drove for Sauber.
Ferrari issued a statement on Tuesday confirming Raikonnen’s exit and Leclrec’s entry to Ferrari, adding that as a world champion of Scuderia Ferrari, Raikonnen will always be part of the team’s history.
The Finnish Formula 1 driver posted a message on Instagram announcing he would be joining Sauber for a two-year deal. “Guess who’s back?! Next two years with @sauberf1team ahead! Feels extremely good to go back where it all began!” the 38-year-old told his 974,000 followers.
The move was later confirmed by Sauber in a separate statement. “Signing Kimi Raikkonen 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,” said principal Frederic Vasseur.
Fans, on the other hand, wanted Ferrari to retain Raikonnen. But the Italian team went ahead with the move despite an online petition that attracted 90,000 signatures.
F1 commentator Martin Brundle has called the move ‘strange’, saying that Raikonnen should’ve stayed to bow at the top. “So Kimi can imagine driving for another team, Sauber,” he tweeted. “Good for him but feels strange to me as he heads to 40.”