Raikkonen to leave Ferrari and join Sauber

Ferrari's loss is Sauber's gain with Kimi Raikkonen set to swap teams for the 2019 Formula One season.

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen   -  Getty Images

Kimi Raikkonen will leave Ferrari at the end of the 2018 Formula One season and join Sauber, it has been confirmed.

The Finn is in his second spell with Ferrari, having won the 2007 world title with the Italian team during his initial stint.

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Raikkonen rejoined in 2014 to partner Fernando Alonso and has worked alongside Sebastian Vettel for the past three years, though the 38-year-old's departure does not signal the end of his F1 career.

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Sauber followed up Ferrari's update by confirming they have signed Raikkonen - who sits third in this year's championship standings - on a two-year deal.

"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," the team said.

"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.

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

Raikkonen has won 20 races in his F1 career, though his last triumph came at the Australian Grand Prix in 2013 when, driving for Lotus, he held off future team-mate Alonso to take the chequered flag.

While a consistent performer for Ferrari this season, claiming a podium place on nine occasions, Raikkonen will be replaced by Charles Leclerc.

"Scuderia Ferrari announces that, at the end of the 2018 season, Kimi Raikkonen will step down from his current role," the Italian team said in a statement.

"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.

"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."

Leclerc's move means the two drivers have effectively swapped seats; the 20-year-old - who won the Formula 2 championship last year - making the switch after an impressive debut season with Sauber.