The young Monaco driver Charles Leclerc will replace the Finnish veteran Kimi Raikkonen in Ferrari next season with the former world champion returning to Sauber, both Formula One teams announced on Tuesday. Leclerc, 20, a graduate of the Ferrari Drivers' Academy, was the 2017 Formula 2 champion and made his F1 debut this season with the Sauber team. "Scuderia Ferrari announces that, at the end of the 2018 season, Kimi Raikkonen will step down from his current position," the team said in a statement. "… in the next Formula One racing season, Charles Leclerc will lead for the team with Sebastian Vettel," he added.
"Dreams come true," Leclerc posted on Twitter. "I will drive for @scuderiaferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship."
Leclerc has had a promising start in his rookie season, finishing sixth in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
It has been powered by the Scuderia Ferrari for several years and is run by Nicolas Todt, son of former Ferrari team director and current FIA president, Jean Todt.
"I will be eternally grateful to @scuderiaferrari for the opportunity given to @nicolastodt for supporting me since 2011. To my family," added Leclerc.
Raikkonen, 38, has started 287 Grands Prix, winning 20 since his debut in 2001 with Sauber.
Raikkonen achieved his hundredth podium by finishing second in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza this month after having achieved his pole number 18 in style with the best all-time lap of F1.
"During these years, Kimi's contribution to the team, as a driver and due to his human qualities, has been fundamental, he played a decisive role in the team's growth and, at the same time, he was always a great team player," he said. the team.
Raikkonen left F1 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 returns to the roots of F1
Raikkonen returned to Ferrari in 2014.
"As the Scuderia Ferrari world champion, he will always be part of the team's history and family, we thank Kimi for all this and wish him and his family a prosperous future," the team added.
Sauber then confirmed that Raikkonen would return to the team with which he debuted in 2001.
"The Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 team is delighted to announce that Kimi Raikkonen will join the team starting in 2019. The 2007 Formula One World Champion has signed up for the next two seasons," Sauber confirmed.
Raikkonen left Sauber for McLaren in 2002 before rejoining Ferrari in 2006.
He tweeted: "Guess who came back! The next two years with @ sauberf1team ahead! It feels extremely good to go back to where it all started!"
The Sauber team director said: "Signing Kimi Raikkonen as our driver represents an important pillar of our project, and brings us closer to our goal 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 also accelerate the growth and development of our team in general.
"Together, we will begin the 2019 season with a solid base, driven by the determination to fight for results that count."