Kimi Raikkonen will not race for Ferrari in next year's F1 World Championship and will be replaced by Sauber driver Charles Leclerc. The Finn has signed for Sauber, returning to the team where he started his F1 career.
Raikkonen leaves Ferrari after joining the team in 2014, which was his second spell with the iconic Italian racing team, after a successful three seasons between 2007 and 2009, where he won the driver's championship once.
He returns to Sauber which was the first team he raced for in F1 in 2001.
Kimi Raikkonen will leave @ScuderiaFerrari at the end of the season, the team has confirmed:— Formula 1 (@F1) September 11, 2018
"As a World Champion for Scuderia Ferrari, he will always be part of the Team’s history and family. We thank Kimi for all of this and wish him and his family a prosperous future." pic.twitter.com/EKVvyR5wPb
Meanwhile, his replacement is 20-year-old Leclerc, who was part of the Ferrari Young Driver program and has impressed in his current debut season in F1, scoring 13 points so far in the season in the Sauber with the Ferrari engine.
Leclerc is a highly rated driver who won the GP3 championship in 2016 and followed it up with the Formula 2 championship, which earned him a drive in F1 and with Sauber.
Dreams do come true... I'll be driving for @scuderiaferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship. I will be eternally grateful to @scuderiaferrari for the opportunity given. To @nicolastodt for supporting me since 2011. To my family❤️. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/O4GQVO570b— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) September 11, 2018
To a person that is not part of this world anymore but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules, thank you for all the things you learnt me, we will never forget you, and to all the persons that supported me and believed in me. 2/3— Charles Leclerc (@Charles_Leclerc) September 11, 2018
His highest finish in the current season has been a sixth-place finish at Baku in the Azerbaijan GP, while he has finished in the points in four other races as well.
Leclerc was mentored by the late Jules Bianchi, who was also part of the Ferrari Driver Academy but tragically passed away in a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix.
He will hope to do him proud by winning a race, or maybe even a championship with Ferrari next year.