Ferrari ready to replace Raikkonen with Leclerc for 2019 F1 season

Ferrari is ready to replace Kimi Raikkonen with rising star Charles Leclerc in its Formula 1 driver line-up for 2019, Autosport has learned

Ferrari ready to replace Raikkonen with Leclerc for 2019 F1 season

Raikkonen, who turns 39 in October, earned a one-year contract extension with the Italian team last year.

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said in December that the 2007 F1 world champion needed more consistency and that "probably this [2018] is the last season to find the right key".

Raikkonen enjoyed a strong start to 2018, scoring three podiums in the first four races and performing much closer to Sebastian Vettel's level than in previous seasons.

But he has finished off the podium in the last two races in Monaco and Canada, while Vettel scored a second and a victory to take the championship lead.

Autosport understands that Ferrari considered replacing Raikkonen with current Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, who is out-of-contract at the end of 2018.

It ultimately decided that the cost of hiring the Australian would be too high when combined with Vettel's existing salary.

That left it with a choice between Raikkonen, who is still Ferrari's most recent world champion but is yet to win a race since rejoining the team in 2014, and Leclerc, who is contesting his rookie F1 season with Sauber.

Raikkonen's dip in form this season has coincided with Leclerc's maiden F1 campaign sparking into life, with the 20-year-old scoring points in three of the last four races and comfortably establishing an advantage over his experienced Sauber team-mate Marcus Ericsson.

A final decision has not been made but Ferrari is understood to be leaning towards promoting Leclerc to a race seat.

This would shift it away from its policy of signing established drivers and mean the team swaps a driver with 277 grands prix starts to date - 137 for Ferrari, the third-most of any driver and two fewer than Felipe Massa - for one who is preparing for only his eighth GP weekend in France.

Asked by Autosport on Thursday in France, ahead of this week's race, about his position on extending his F1 career, Raikkonen said he was "not any different to one week, two weeks, a month ago".

Leclerc is a product of the Ferrari Driver Academy and won back-to-back titles in GP3 and Formula 2 under the guidance of the scheme.

He would be its first graduate to make it to a Ferrari F1 race seat.

Leclerc said at the previous in Canada that when people talk about him as a future Ferrari driver "it only makes me smile, but on the other hand it doesn't feel realistic for now".

He added: "When it will be time to think about next year I will think about it, and hopefully we have an opportunity to take that seat."

shares
comments
Ericsson eyes 'powerful' Sauber car changes amid Leclerc pressure
Previous article

Ericsson eyes 'powerful' Sauber car changes amid Leclerc pressure

Next article

Hamilton and Bottas hint at further Mercedes engine upgrade delay

Hamilton and Bottas hint at further Mercedes engine upgrade delay
How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge Plus

How a bad car creates the ultimate engineering challenge

While creating a car that is woefully off the pace is a nightmare scenario for any team, it inadvertently generates the test any engineering department would relish: to turn it into a winner. As Mercedes takes on that challenge in Formula 1 this season, McLaren’s former head of vehicle engineering reveals how the team pulled of the feat in 2009 with Lewis Hamilton

The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future Plus

The under-fire F1 driver fighting for his future

Personable, articulate 
and devoid of the usual
 racing driver airs and graces,
 Nicholas Latifi is the last Formula 1 driver you’d expect to receive death threats, but such was the toxic legacy of his part in last year’s explosive season finale. And now, as ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains, he faces a battle to keep his place on the F1 grid…

Formula 1
Aug 13, 2022
The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes Plus

The strange tyre travails faced by F1’s past heroes

Modern grand prix drivers like to think the tyres they work with are unusually difficult and temperamental. But, says  MAURICE HAMILTON, their predecessors faced many of the same challenges – and some even stranger…

Formula 1
Aug 12, 2022
The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1 Plus

The returning fan car revolution that could suit F1

Gordon Murray's Brabham BT46B 'fan car' was Formula 1 engineering at perhaps its most outlandish. Now fan technology has been successfully utilised on the McMurtry Speirling at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, could it be adopted by grand prix racing once again?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold Plus

Hamilton's first experience of turning silver into gold

The seven-time Formula 1 world champion has been lumbered with a duff car before the 2022 Mercedes. Back in 2009, McLaren’s alchemists transformed the disastrous MP4-24 into a winning car with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. And now it’s happening again at his current team, but can the rate of progress be matched this year?

Formula 1
Aug 11, 2022
Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell Plus

Why few could blame Leclerc for following the example of Hamilton’s exit bombshell

OPINION: Ferrari's numerous strategy blunders, as well as some of his own mistakes, have cost Charles Leclerc dearly in the 2022 Formula 1 title battle in the first half of the season. Though he is locked into a deal with Ferrari, few could blame Leclerc if he ultimately wanted to look elsewhere - just as Lewis Hamilton did with McLaren 10 years prior

Formula 1
Aug 9, 2022
The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat Plus

The other McLaren exile hoping to follow Perez's path to a top F1 seat

After being ditched by McLaren earlier in his F1 career Sergio Perez fought his way back into a seat with a leading team. BEN EDWARDS thinks the same could be happening to another member of the current grid

Formula 1
Aug 8, 2022
How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay Plus

How studying Schumacher helped make Coulthard a McLaren F1 mainstay

Winner of 13 grands prix including Monaco and survivor of a life-changing plane crash, David Coulthard could be forgiven for having eased into a quiet retirement – but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, in fact he’s busier than ever, running an award-winning media company and championing diversity in motor racing. Not bad for someone who, by his own admission, wasn’t quite the fastest driver of his generation…

Formula 1
Aug 7, 2022