Kimi Raikkonen has revealed Ferrari informed him that he would be dropped in favour of Charles Leclerc next year at the Italian Grand Prix, leading him to begin talks with Sauber over a deal for 2019.
On Tuesday, Ferrari confirmed it had decided to promote Leclerc following an impressive debut season, all but ending Raikkonen’s five-year stint with the team after re-signing for the Scuderia in 2014.
In a surprising move, the Finn announced he would renew his acquaintances with Sauber on a two-year deal, re-joining the Swiss outfit where he began his Formula 1 career in 2001 – effectively switching seats with Leclerc.
Raikkonen, who claimed his first pole position of the season at Monza, said he learned of the team’s decision to not renew his contract for next season on that weekend.
“In Monza, that’s when I knew,” Raikkonen said on learning his Ferrari fate. “I know people at Sauber from the past, so it [negotiations] basically started after that.
“There’s no need to explain what happened. This is what has happened and I think, as we’ve said many times before, it was not up to me, it was not my decision, in the end.
“Anything that happened after that it was my decision and this is what we have, this is the outcome. At least we have an outcome.”
Reports suggested as part of his Sauber contract the team had offered Raikkonen a form of management role once he calls time on his F1 career, but the 2007 world champion quickly rebuffed these claims.
“I’ve signed my contract as a driver and I hope I stay there as a driver,” he said. “Who knows what happens in the future, in two years or whatever it is? I don’t know myself and there are always speculations. I have no contract about that [management role].”