Kimi Raikkonen found out he was going to lose his Ferrari Formula 1 seat to Charles Leclerc for 2019 at the Italian Grand Prix.

Earlier this week, Ferrari announced its decision to replace Raikkonen with its protégé Leclerc after just one full season driving in F1, following a string of impressive performances in his rookie campaign with Sauber.

In a somewhat surprising move, Raikkonen confirmed he would remain in the sport having signed a two-year deal to return to the Sauber squad he made his F1 debut with back in 2001 in what effectively served as a straight swap with Leclerc.



Speaking for the first time since the news ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, the Finn told media he was made aware of Ferrari’s decision at Monza, leading him to begin talks with Sauber about re-joining the team next season.

"In Monza, that’s when I knew," Raikkonen said. "I know people at Sauber from the past, so it [negotiations] basically started after that."

Raikkonen, who was unable to convert pole position into what would have been the Scuderia’s first victory on home soil since 2010, also revealed the final call on his future was made by Ferrari.

"There’s no need to explain what happened," he said. "This is what has happened and I think, as we’ve said many times before, it was not up to me, it was not my decision, in the end.

"Anything that happened after that it was my decision and this is what we have, this is the outcome. At least we have an outcome."

When asked what was the motivation behind his decision to continue racing in F1 with a midfield team, Raikkonen, who turns 39 next month, replied: "Why not?

"There are a lot of differences between all the cars. If you take all the teams, there aren’t many cars, if you take this year, that are in the same level. That’s how it has always been. We’ll see what happens in the future."

He jokingly added: "I’m not happy about it, I’m just playing head games with you guys. I’m just going to spend the next two years there not being very happy with that [laughs]."

There had been suggestions part of the deal to return to Sauber involved some form of management role at the Swiss outfit, but Raikkonen stressed there had been “zero discussions” relating to anything other than driving matters. 

"I’ve signed my contract as a driver and I hope I stay there as a driver," he explained. "Who knows what happens in the future, in two years or whatever it is? I don’t know myself and there are always speculations. I have no contract about that [management role]."

FEATURE: Why Leclerc and Raikkonen are both winners in Ferrari 2019 driver swap


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