Ferrari has today confirmed that Charles Leclerc will join the team from 2019 as Kimi Raikkonen will return to Sauber.
It had been speculated for weeks that Leclerc would get the promotion to the Ferrari team after a stunning rookie season with Sauber.
The 2017 GP2 champion had been promised the drive by Sergio Marchionne before he passed away in July, Raikkonen then became the favourite but the new bosses decided to honour Marchionne’s choice.
On Twitter Leclerc said: “Dreams do come true… I’ll be driving for Ferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship. I will be eternally grateful to Ferrari for the opportunity given.
“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.
“I will work harder than ever to not disappoint you. But first, there is a season to finish with an amazing team that gave me the opportunity to fight and show my potential.”
Raikkonen, on the other hand, is set to return to Sauber in an apparent straight swap between the two. Raikkonen started his career with Sauber in 2001 before moving to Mclaren and then Ferrari were became the teams last world champion in 2007 after a short break from F1 in 2010/11 he return to F1 with Lotus and claimed his last race win at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, he the moved back to Ferrari in 2014 were he has been a consistant podium scorer.
In an Instagram post announcing the move Raikkonen said:
“Guess who’s back?! Next two years with Sauber ahead! Feels extremely good to go back to where it all began!”
Sauber team principal Fereric Vasseur said:
“Signing Kimi Raikkonen as our driver represents an important pillar of our project, and brings us closer to our target of making significant progress as a team in the near future,
“Kimi’s undoubted talent and immense experience in Formula 1 will not only contribute to the development of our car, but will also accelerate the growth and development of our team as a whole.”
This announcement now means that half the 2019 grid has been confirmed with Suaber, Force India, Willaims, Haas and Toro Rosso yet to confirm their full line ups.