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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen with Charles Leclerc in 2019

Leclerc, 20, a Ferrari Driver Academy graduate, made his debut in Formula One this season with Sauber.

Sauber driver Charles Leclerc had been widely expected to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. EPA
Sauber driver Charles Leclerc had been widely expected to replace Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari. EPA

Monaco's Charles Leclerc will replace former world champion Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2019, the Italian team announced on Tuesday.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will drive for the Team alongside Sebastian Vettel," the team said in a statement.

Leclerc, 20, a Ferrari Driver Academy graduate, made his debut in Formula One this season with Sauber.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that, at the end of the 2018 season, Kimi Raikkonen will step down from his current role," the team added.

"During these years, Kimi's contribution to the team, both as a driver and on account of his human qualities, has been fundamental. He played a decisive role in the team's growth and was, at the same time, always a great team player."

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Read more:

Supporters want Ferrari to keep Kimi Raikkonen as decision awaited

Ferrari should replace Raikkonen for 2019 to help Vettel's title chances

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Finland's Kimi Raikkonen won the world championship with Ferrari in 2007. Reuters
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen won the world championship with Ferrari in 2007. Reuters

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Raikkonen bio:

Nickname: Iceman

Date of birth: October 17, 1979

Place of birth: Espoo, Finland

Nationality: Finnish

Height: 1.75 m

Team 2018: Ferrari

Race number: 7

World championship: 2007

Grands prix started: 287

Teams: Sauber (2001), McLaren (2002-2006), Ferrari (2007-2009), Lotus (2012-2013), Ferrari (2014-2018), Sauber (from 2019)

Start: Australia 2001 (6th)

First win: Malaysia 2003

Last win: Australia 2013

Wins: 20

Podiums (including wins): 100

Pole positions: 18

Points achieved: 1,729

World driver standings: 1st (2007), 2nd (2003, 2005), 3rd (2008, 2012), 4th (2015, 2017), 5th (2006, 2013), 6th (2002, 2009, 2016), 7th (2004), 10th (2001), 12th (2014)

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Raikkonen, 38, has started 287 grands prix, winning 20 since his debut in 2001 with Sauber, the team he will race for again in 2019.

"The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team is delighted to announce that Kimi Raikkonen will join the team from 2019. The 2007 Formula One World Champion has signed for the next two seasons," Sauber confirmed.

Raikkonen left Formula One two years after winning the world title with Ferrari and spent two years competing in the World Rally Championship, before returning to F1 with Lotus in 2012.

Raikkonen moved back to Ferrari in 2014.

"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," the team added.

Raikkonen tweeted: "Guess who’s back?! Next two years with @sauberf1team ahead! Feels extremely good to go back where it all began!"

Sauber team principal 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 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.

"Together, we will start the 2019 season with a strong foundation, driven by the determination to fight for results that count."