…coming soon from the team. During the Monza weekend, it’s understood that their Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen had been told he was being replaced for 2019.
The source of this seismic shift in the Italian team? It started with fellow Finn and ex Ferrari driver Mika Salo.
The 51 year old currently works as a race commissioner for the FIA and has close ties with Kimi and Ferrari – “As far as I know, Kimi Raikkonen has learned in Monza that he’s no longer a Ferrari driver in 2019, why do they not announce it?”.
Further rumour has emerged yesterday from Italian sources saying that the new Ferrari CEO John Elkann has decided to follow through with his predecessor’s plan to place the Monegasque driver Charles Leclerc in with Vettel for 2019 after all.
Raikkonen was told by Elkann at the Monza weekend, before the race.
Sky Italia reports that a meeting in Maranello is scheduled for today (6th September), after which Ferrari will make their driver announcement for 2019.
It was the desire of Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne, who died in July, to bring the promising Leclerc from Sauber to Ferrari. TJ13 reported some time ago that a preliminary contract was signed with the management of Leclerc (Nicolas Todt, son of FIA president Jean Todt).
Kimi being told just before the race had obviously had an impact on his driving during the race, robustly defending the lead against his teammate Vettel.
Vettel himself said earlier in the week that “I’m doing my job and I’m prepared to race everybody.”, including Kimi – a policy somewhat different to what we’re used to seeing in Ferrari. In fact, he also claims to ‘not be happy with Kimi or Ferrari’ and said as much.
Vettel has always backed Kimi as a teammate at Ferrari, as a friend but also as a clear number 2 driver. Leclerc clearly would be a threat to his number 1 status in the team.
Raikkonen has repeatedly said that Ferrari is his last team in Formula 1. If “Iceman” is not satisfied with second and third places, it is hard to believe that he wants to continue his career for Sauber or Haas in order to tediously earn points. It is more likely that Raikkonen will contest his last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.