F1: Kimi to step down at Ferrari, to join Sauber starting 2019
For two back-to-back weeks, Kimi Raikkonen generated a near ruckus on social media regarding his imminent Formula 1 future.
There were guesses. There were massive speculations. In a season no stranger to heartbreaks and retirements, made only worse by the announcement that Fernando Alonso would end his career at the conclusion of the current run. Kimi Raikkonen has fueled the interest and rabble of fans and critics even further with news coming in that the ‘Iceman’ will bow out at the end of 2018.
And in the middle of it all, one took a jibe at Kimi's detractors who continued saying that the Finn was over, much to the chagrin of his fans, who were besotted by that flying Monza lap that created history for the fastest-ever lap in the annals of the sport at 1:19:119.
And now, finally, the long-awaited confirmation on the current Ferrari drivers' future seems to have thrown a conclusion.
In a statement released to the media, just a few hours earlier today, September 11, Ferrari released an official statement confirming that Raikkonen would step down from his role at Ferrari, where he's currently partnering Sebastian Vettel for the 2018 Formula 1 season.
What's more? While the news will bring immense sadness for those who hailed the Raikkonen and Ferrari alliance- a dazzling combination- that yielded 1 WDC back in 2007, the last for Ferrari as on date, there was a reprieve of sorts for Raikkonen's fans.
It's also reported that starting 2019, Kimi Raikkonen, who'll be stepping out for Charles Leclerc (currently driving at Sauber) will be taking a place in the Frenchman's team.
In many ways, Raikkonen's return to Sauber, currently a hotly-debated topic in the motorsport fraternity marks the full circle for the Iceman, who started his career from this very team back in 2001. His first Grand Prix entry was at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix and he would go on to collect a maiden win in 2003.
That said, as Raikkonen will now perhaps race more freely, his future sealed and in his knowledge of things, it might be asked- what might the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix present?
Will Raikkonen be seen following Ferrari's team-orders and whether he will continue his surprisingly pleasant run as seen this year- marked by a record lap at Monza and 9 podiums so far- there are plenty of questions that will still keep his fans on the tenterhooks.
But above anything, Raikkonen's fans must take heart from the fact that he's still around, albeit in a car that may not be the most powerful on the grid. But then, so was Lotus in 2012-13 seasons. One shouldn't forget that it was the Iceman who kept his cool and put his car on top at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, following it with a sensational win he pulled off the very next race; 2013 Melbourne Grand Prix, proving his efforts weren't a flash in the pan.