Kimi Raikkonen says he is looking forward to focusing on “pure racing” with Sauber in the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Raikkonen will return to Sauber after 18 years away, having rejoined the team he made his F1 bow with in 2001 after making way for the arrival of Charles Leclerc at Ferrari.

The Finn spent four of the last five years of his Ferrari tenure alongside multiple world champion Sebastian Vettel, and while the pair largely enjoyed a harmonious relationship, Raikkonen says he is looking forward to a change of environment.

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“I’m really looking forward to it,” Raikkonen said.

“It’s going to be different in many ways, but the aim will still be the same.

“It’s more pure racing than the other stuff there. Hopefully it will turn out to be good for both of us - that’s the aim.

“I think that’s what we can do but I’m may be completely wrong, but I have a good feeling about it and that’s why I accepted to go back there.”

The move marks a step down the grid for Raikkonen but he stressed he is relishing the prospect of helping Sauber continue its rapid rise up the midfield order, following the impressive gains made by the Swiss outfit in 2018.

Raikkonen admitted he was surprised not to feel a bigger difference between Ferrari and Sauber’s respective 2018 challengers when he linked up with the team to conduct post-season testing in Abu Dhabi, though he was keen to avoid setting any targets ahead of the new season.

“I haven’t really thought about it, we’ll see once we start driving the new cars,” he explained.

“We’ll see where we are and we’ll go purely by feeling, and we go from there.

“Obviously it’s a different challenge but I enjoy that, so that’s why I took it. If you ask many people there are many different opinions on how it will go.

“We’ll find out and we’ll do our best and I think we have good chance to do some great things.

“Where that is going to take us, who knows? We’ll find out.”

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