The Scuderia Ferrari F1 team has confirmed that its Monaco-born junior driver Charles Leclerc, currently of Alfa Romeo Sauber F1, will be replacing 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen for its lineup in the 2019 season. At the same time, Kimi Raikkonen has signed a two-year contract with what is now the Alfa Romeo Sauber team to take over Leclerc's seat. The two drivers have switched places.
Raikkonen made his F1 debut back in 2001 in a Sauber and has driven for Ferrari on two separate occasions, winning the world title in 2007 in his first season as Michael Schumacher's replacement. However, Raikkonen has yet to score a single win since he rejoined Ferrari in 2014. His teammate, four time champ Sebastian Vettel, hasn't had the same fortune, winning a number of races and fighting for another championship. That led to speculation that his days at Ferrari, and possibly Formula 1, were nearing an end. Instead, he's moving to Alfa Romeo Sauber, which is essentially a Ferrari junior team now, for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Raikkonen made the news official on his Instagram page:
Raikkonen's replacement, Charles Leclerc, a Ferrari junior driver, made his F1 debut this year, finishing within the top 10 five times so far this season. His best finish was a sixth at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. He's scored a total of 13 points with seven races remaining this season. The 20-year old won the GP3 championship in 2016, and the Formula 2 title last year. According to , he's the second-youngest Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver ever, topped only by Ricardo Rodriguez, who started his career at Ferrari at the age of 19 in 1961. Leclerc also shared his move via Twitter:
Does Leclerc have what it takes to take on the responsibility of being a full-fledged Scuderia Ferrari driver? Will Kimi lift the Alfa Romeo Sauber team to new heights? We'll have to wait until next season to find out.