Kimi Raikkonen switched to Alfa Romeo at the end of 2018, where he took the place of Charles Leclerc who switched to Ferrari. Raikkonen will again be active in Formula 1 this season, but how did that move come about at the time? In 2017 the first lines were already thrown out and Raikkonen seized it when it became clear that his work for Ferrari would come to an end.
Return to Sauber
Kimi Raikkonen made his debut in 2001 at Sauber which is now known as Alfa Romeo. So the Finn is familiar with the environment and the employees, including team manager Beat Zehnder. Together with Raikkonen he was in a private jet after the Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2017 when the future of the Finn was discussed.
Zehnder says at Motorsport.com: “I said: ‘Listen, if you don’t want to drive for Ferrari any more, or if they dismiss you, then please contact me. I will make it possible. We’ll find a way, if you’re interested and you’re motivated to come back to Sauber.’ We always had talks about this over the years.”
Just before the Italian Grand Prix of 2018 Raikkonen was informed about the choice of Ferrari for Charles Leclerc. That set everything in motion, because then Raikkonen contacted Zehnder and team boss Frederic Vasseur, where the deal was completed in a few days. The contract itself was ready in no time. However, we can’t really talk about a contract.
“We basically did a contract within two hours. Well, a contract – we did an agreement, because Kimi doesn’t read contracts!” And that, of course, is typical Raikkonen who doesn’t like the official way of doing things.