LeClerc Signs For Ferrari; Raikkonen Switches To Sauber
MILAN, Italy—R.I.S.--In one of the most unusual swaps in formula 1 history, Monegasque Charles LeClerc has been selected to partner four -time world champion Sebastian Vettel for Ferrari beginning next season. The 20-year-old not surprisingly, will replace Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn being the last world champion for the Scuderia.
However, LeClerc’s move did not surprise many people, but the biggest jolt came when Raikkonen himself announced Tuesday (September 11th) that he would be joining LeClerc’s Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, a squad that he first drove for in 2001, alongside Felipe Massa, who himself, was a former driver for Ferrari.
The announcement for LeClerc joining Ferrari at such a young age, was tipped to replace Raikkonen for many months into the season, and even when most of the Tifosi even wrote a petition to keep Raikkonen, it fell on deaf ears, even after the rumor about it happening began to die down until weeks after the summer break.
LeClerc’s position was recognized by Sauber Team Manager Frederic Vasseur, who congratulated LeClerc on his promotion.
"It has been a great pleasure to support Charles Leclerc in his rookie year in Formula One. Since his arrival, he has given the team great motivation. We have constantly improved, and we will work hard until the end of this season to achieve the best possible results together. We are aware of Charles' talent and are confident that he will have a bright future. We will keep on following him closely and we wish him the best on his path."
The tension certainly will be more on LeClerc that it will be on Raikkonen, although the former had already left for two seasons to compete in the world rally championship. The Finn returned to F1 in 2014, but could only obtain two pole positions, the last just a couple of weeks ago in Italy. But in his return, Raikkonen never won a race. LeClerc on the other hand, does have time like McLaren’s new driver for 2019, Lando Norris, who is just one year younger at 19. But if LeClerc can handle the tension at the Scuderia, then he will assist the team in competing for the constructor’s championship against Mercedes.
But time will be on his side.
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.