Raikkonen to drive Sauber at test

Kimi Raikkonen has confirmed that he will make his debut with Sauber at next week’s test at Yas Marina.

It will be a home coming for the Finn who began his F1 career with the Swiss team in 2001.

Asked what he is most looking forward to about rejoining his old team, he said: “I don’t know yet because… I’m pretty sure it’s a much smaller team than where I’ve been now, at Ferrari, but I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s going to be different in many ways,” he admitted, “but the aim is still the same, do well in the races. I think it’s more pure racing and less the other stuff in there.

“Hopefully it will turn out to be good for both of us and that’s our aim. I think it’s what we can do, but obviously I might be completely wrong but we’ll find out. I have a good feeling about it and I’m excited to go there. But it’s close to my home which is obviously a bonus.

Though Sauber has yet to reveal its test programme, Fred Vasseur confirmed that Raikkonen – who had a seat fitting at Hinwil in September shortly after his return was announced – has been given the green light by Ferrari.

Asked if he will be sad to leave the Maranello team, The Iceman, as ever, was giving little away in terms of emotion.

“Obviously I had practice leaving them once already so it’s not a new thing,” he smiled. “I’m not sad because I don’t see why we need to be sad. We will stay as friends. We’re going to see a lot of us anyhow in the paddock so not an awful lot changes.

“We’ll both go for new things and I think it’s exciting,” he continued, “but we’ve had good times with the team, great people. We’ve had some difficult times, but that’s part of business and I think that’s how it should go, sometimes it needs to be a bit hard. Obviously I won the championship with them as a driver and we won twice the teams’ championship, so I’m very happy to be part of it because there’s not many people who have done it.

“We will happily go different ways. We’re not that far away from each other and we will keep doing what we do.”

While he goes into the season finale third in the standings, the Finn admitted that he wouldn’t be too disappointed to be leapfrogged by Valtteri Bottas or Max Verstappen, who both have a mathematical chance.

“If I end up third, I think I need to go wherever the prize giving is, so it is a negative thing in the end, more travelling,” he joked.

Check out our Friday gallery from Yas Marina, here.