Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen has signed a two-year contract with Sauber and will be racing for the Swiss in 2019/2020, not exactly news now.
What is news, is that Kimi traveled to Switzerland straight after the Singapore Grand Prix for a seat fitting already. The Finn certainly wastes no time.
The official announcement for the Sauber 2 year deal before the Singapore Grand Prix and certainly came from nowhere. Many rumours persisted but nobody quite believed it would happen.
Just before the announcement, TJ13 reported on the possibility of Raikkonen moving to Sauber as was rumoured to be the case. Even this humble Judge ended the article with the caveat: “It is more likely that Raikkonen will contest his last Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.”
Alas, we can’t get them all right!
I digress… So the reason for Kimi to visit the Swiss based squad? Well the boring explanation is that although the 2019 Sauber chassis is still in development, the 2018 car used during the seat fitting will still work for next years contender. But still, the fitting is far too early for 2019 winter testing duties, and rumour is rife.
TJ13 understands that a mutual agreement may have taken place between Sauber and Ferrari. The 2019 Alfa Romeo Sauber C38 Ferrari, designed by Luca Furbatto and Simone Resta (how Ferrari can you get?!), believe that Kimi gaining experience in their previous generation 2018 car will benefit the team in winter testing with the new chassis.
Further, Ferrari are keep to jump start Leclerc’s driving experience with the Ferrari, evidenced by the test lately in Le Castellet.
We could well see Kimi testing the Sauber as early as Mexico, straight after the Grand Prix, during the Pirelli test at the Autodromo Rodriguez. And certainly don’t rule out the Abu Dhabi test after the finale too.
Should Kimi run in Mexico, it’ll be the first time he’s driven a Sauber F1 car since October 2001 during the Japanese GP.
If the Finn finish his 2 year deal with Sauber, he’ll be set to be the driver with the longest career, surpassing Rubens Barrichello record total of 326 starts. Kimi should reach between 333 and 335 (depending on likely calendar).