Kimi Raikkonen confirms stunning F1 swap from Ferrari to Sauber
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He was supposed to retire. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO RETIRE!
Kimi Raikkonen, a driver almost everyone in the Formula 1 paddock would have bet the house on retiring at the end of this season from his post at Ferrari, has confirmed that he will be shifting to Alfa Romeo Sauber on a two-year contract.
It's been reported that the 38-year-old will be replaced at the prancing horse with Charles Leclerc — as expected.
Raikkonen's departure from Ferrari was announced first, with team boss Maurizio Arrivabene saying; "[Raikkonen] played a decisive role in the team's growth and was, at the same time, always a great team player.
"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."
Six minutes later over on Instagram, Raikkonen announced he would be moving to Sauber. "Guess who's back?! Next two years with @sauberf1team ahead!" he said.
"Feels extremely good to go back where it all began!"
Yes, it's not even Thursday but this is a throwback. Raikkonen's F1 career began with Sauber in 2001; his plethora of top-five finishes helping him earn a contract with McLaren that would see him racing for the storied team for five consecutive seasons.
He then moved to Ferrari, won the title, raced for two more seasons, retired (a first time) to dabble in rallying and NASCAR before returning like a boomerang to F1 in 2012 with Lotus. By 2014 he'd gone full circle to be back at Ferrari, and now he's gone full circle ... again.
So what does it mean? Well, it means the second spot at Sauber could be hot property. Current driver Marcus Ericsson and Ferrari favourite Antonio Giovanazzi should both have a shot at the seat. Factor in too McLaren refugee Stoffel Vandoorne, who is managed by none other than Sauber team owner Frederic Vasseur.
The sport will be dead chuffed to see Raikkonen returning to the grid, of course. He's one of the most popular drivers on the grid and is one of the few still there willing to speak his mind and show a bit of colour — especially now that Fernando Alonso has confirmed his departure.
What a silly season it's turning out to be, eh?