F1 – Ferrari swap Raikkonen and Leclerc at the right time

Kimi Raikkonen will finally leave Ferrari at the end of the season having spent the previous three years fielding questions about his future at Maranello.

And, while he now has a five-and-a-half year wait for a victory after spending a lot of that time as the rear gunner for Sebastian Vettel, Raikkonen has given us a lot of fun in his second stint with the Prancing Horse.

The 2007 World Champion’s career has gone full circle as he announced a return to Sauber, where he first burst on to the scene in 2001 while Ferrari’s protégé Charles Leclerc leaves Sauber for Ferrari.

Don’t think that this is just a farewell tour so that he can safely break the record for GP starts held by Rubens Barrichello at 323.

The Finn certainly has the speed and arguably now a point to prove. He is still level on victories with Mika Hakkinen with 20 apiece and he’s stood on the podium in seven of the last eight races and has 100 in total.

While many will be saddened that due to Vettel’s fight with Lewis Hamilton in the World championship Raikkonen won’t get the chance to break the Finnish F1 record, there are still more moments of magic, and indeed the odd blunt radio message left for us over the next two years.

Realistically, this is the right move for Ferrari. Had Leclerc had to spend more time at either of their affiliate teams (Sauber or Haas) then they ran the risk of the 20-year-old Monegasque being poached by another manufacturer.

Given the promise Leclerc has shown this year, where he has well beaten the experienced Marcus Ericsson, they couldn’t afford for that to happen.

Leclerc will do great things at Ferrari alongside Vettel, who will be motivated to avoid a repeat of the 2014 season at Red Bull where Daniel Ricciardo thrashed him after stepping up from Toro Rosso.

But for the rest of the season, Raikkonen deserves a proper farewell from Ferrari.

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