Sebastian Vettel will probably have a new team mate for the new season. Charles Leclerc to replace Kimi Räikkönen. The reason is an agreement between the late ex-president of Ferrari and Leclerc.
It was not Räikkönen's day: At the Ferrari Home Grand Prix in Monza on Sunday (2nd september 2018) the Finn was in the lead for a long time, but finally had to admit defeat to Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes. Much more dramatic from Räikkönens point of view: It could have been his last race for Ferrari in Italy. All indications are that Leclerc will replace him at Ferrari next season.
Räikkönen's contract expires at the end of this season and the Scuderia managers want to extend it with the 38-year-old, who is in top form this year. But the situation is not so simple. "Nothing's been decided. There's no time window for either that. Kimi has been a loyal friend for a long time," says Ferrari President Louis Camillieri about the situation.
Leclerc should already have a contract
The problem: The former Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne, who died at the end of July, is said to have promised Leclerc a Ferrari cockpit for the 2019 season. Other media even report a contract. In addition, Nicolas Todt, son of FIA President Jean Todt, who has worked for the Scuderia for many years, is in charge of Leclerc.
So everything points to the fact that the eighth Ferrari season in total is the last for Räikkönen. In view of the situations in the other teams, the most likely end of a career is when Ferrari - as expected - commits Leclerc. Asked about his future, Räikkönen said in Monza only: "I don't know. You can probably expect anything. I've learned that over the years."
Leclerc: "I hope I can say something soon"
Leclerc, who has already collected 13 World Championship Points this season for the mostly hopelessly inferior Sauber team, sounded almost euphoric. "At the moment I am still waiting for information and hopefully I will soon be able to say something," the Monegasse said.
The 20-year-old is regarded as a promising motorsport talent and won the Formula 2 title last year, and has been part of Ferrari's support programme since 2016, completing regular tests with the factory team and the Haas. His most notable achievement so far in Formula 1: sixth place on the city circuit in Azerbaijan.
Vettel would lose a good friend
Should he sit next year at Sebastian Vettel's side in the Ferrari, there would be a lot more in it. It is quite possible that Leclerc wants to prove himself against the four-time world champion right from the start. It's a fact: If Raikkonen leaves, Vettel loses a good friend on the team who challenged him and stood by him at the same time.
However, the final decision - or at least the date on which it will be announced - is still pending. At the race in Singapore in mid-September, the Ferrari drivers are certainly Vettel and Räikkönen.
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