Hot shot joins Fer­ra­ri

One of the youn­ge­st dri­vers e­ver to turn out for the I­ta­li­an F1 gi­ants

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News -

Mo­na­co’s 20-y­e­ar old rook­ie C­har­les Le­clerc will re­pla­ce For­mu­la One ve­te­ran Ki­mi Raik­ko­nen at Fer­ra­ri next se­a­son in a se­at swap with the Fin­nish 2007 wor­ld cham­pi­on, who re­turns to Sau­ber.

The mo­ves had been wi­de­ly ex­pected and we­re an­noun­ced by both te­ams y­e­ster­day.

Le­clerc, a Fer­ra­ri protégé who has long been tip­ped for pro­mo­ti­on to the s­port’s ol­dest and most success­ful te­am, ma­de his de­but with Sau­ber t­his se­a­son af­ter win­ning last y­e­ar’s For­mu­la Two tit­le.

He will now part­ner four-ti­me wor­ld cham­pi­on and tit­le con­ten­der Se­bas­ti­an Vet­tel.

“S­cu­de­ria Fer­ra­ri an­noun­ces that, at the end of the 2018 se­a­son, Ki­mi Raik­ko­nen will step do­wn from his cur­rent ro­le,” said Fer­ra­ri. “As a wor­ld cham­pi­on for S­cu­de­ria Fer­ra­ri, he will al­ways be part of the te­am’s his­to­ry and fa­mi­ly.”

Fer­ra­ri is For­mu­la One’s most gla­mo­rous te­am and Le­clerc will be one of the youn­ge­st and le­ast ex­pe­rien­ced dri­vers to ra­ce for them.

Raik­ko­nen, 38, pos­ted a mes­sa­ge on In­sta­gram an­noun­cing he would be re­joi­ning Sau­ber - a te­am with Fer­ra­ri en­gi­nes and Al­fa Ro­meo spon­sors­hip - on a two-y­e­ar de­al.

The Finn first dro­ve for them in 2001, be­fo­re mo­ving to M­cLa­ren and then on to Fer­ra­ri, w­he­re he won a tit­le that re­mains the te­am’s most re­cent cham­pi­on.

Sau­ber’s mo­ve will keep three wor­ld cham­pi­ons on the star­ting grid next se­a­son af­ter S­pa­ni­ard Fer­nan­do Alon­so’s de­par­tu­re. “Ki­mi’s un­doub­ted ta­lent and im­men­se ex­pe­rien­ce in For­mu­la One will not on­ly con­tri­bu­te to the de­ve­lop­ment of our car, but will al­so acce­le­ra­te the gro­wth and de­ve­lop­ment of our te­am as a w­ho­le,” said Sau­ber prin­ci­pal F­re­de­ric Vas­seur. Raik­ko­nen, kno­wn as the “I­ce­man”, turns 39 next month and is the ol­dest dri­ver on the grid as well as one of the most po­pu­lar. Mo­re than 87 000 fans re­cent­ly sig­ned an on­li­ne pe­ti­ti­on, ur­ging Fer­ra­ri to re­tain him.

Vet­tel would al­so ha­ve been hap­py to con­ti­nue the part­ners­hip with a te­am-ma­te he has got on well with.

The la­te Fer­ra­ri chair­man, Ser­gio Mar­chi­on­ne, had flag­ged up Le­clerc as Raik­ko­nen’s ob­vi­ous succes­sor last y­e­ar.

The young­ster will be the first na­ti­ve of the Me­di­ter­ra­ne­an prin­ci­pa­li­ty, which hos­ts the s­port’s most gla­mo­rous ra­ce, to dri­ve for Fer­ra­ri. Ma­na­ged by Ni­co­las Todt, w­ho­se fat­her Je­an is he­ad of the s­port’s go­ver­ning bo­dy and a for­mer Fer­ra­ri boss, Le­clerc is al­re­a­dy seen as a fu­tu­re cham­pi­on.

C­har­les Le­clerc

Ki­mi Raik­ko­nen

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