Ferrari confirming one of this season’s worst kept secrets in Formula 1 didn’t come as a surprise; Charles Leclerc – Ferrari academy member, 2017 F2 champion and current Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 driver – will partner Sebastian Vettel in the 2019 season. What’s really surprising is that Kimi Raikkonen, despite his apparent disinterest in all things F1 except when he’s behind the wheel will still be racing in Formula 1 next year.
At 38, Raikkonen is the oldest driver on the grid, but with the departure of Fernando Alonso (at 37) by the end of this season, Raikkonen will be unchallenged as the elder statesman of the sport come 2019. Not that his legion of fans will mind at all, the ultra-popular Finn with the lone 2007 drivers’ title to his name will go about his non-conformist ways at Alfa Romeo Sauber next year, and Sauber happens to be the team which gave Kimi his F1 debut in 2001, so this has all the markings of a fitting farewell lasting for at least two seasons, the duration which he has signed on.
As legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker used to say, ‘Anything happens in Grand Prix racing, and it usually does.”, so don’t count Kimi out just yet at Sauber, especially when he’s behind a car powered by a grunty Ferrari powertrain underneath the Alfa Romeo engine cover. Only one question remains; will Kimi now play the wingman role for Vettel in the remainder of this season? Let’s just say we won’t be betting our house on that.