Kimi Raikkonen has completed a full career circle as today saw his first day of testing with the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team, the Finnish former world champion returning to the Swiss team seventeen years after he departed following his rookie season for a glittering career that took in McLaren, Lotus and Ferrari as well as a two-year sabbatical.
Last Sunday saw Raikkonen undertake his final grand prix for the Scuderia and with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc now heading the other way, it was straight down the pitlane to the Alfa Romeo-sponsored team to begin preparing for life next year.
Sauber is in fact coming off the back of an excellent end to the year as Leclerc scored seventh place in Sunday’s season closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Raikkonen, who ended his Ferrari career (that brought a world title in 2007) with a DNF, will be looking to replicate Leclerc’s scintillating form of this year, in 2019 when the team will once again use Maranello-supplied engines.
The Finnish driver, wearing a plain white sponsor-free racesuit for the test day as he was being released by Ferrari ahead of his contractural obligations to the end of the season, completed a total of 102 laps (which adds up to a total of 566,508 km) throughout today’s first day of the test, which was held in dry and sunny conditions, becoming familiar with this year’s C37 single seater (chassis number C37-01) and the team’s operating systems.
The programme was focused on tyre testing – running the 2019 tyre casing, as well as different compounds from the current selection. With Räikkönen’s feedback and the collected data, the team has obtained a good reference in preparation for the upcoming season.
In the final run, the team finished just a few minutes ahead of schedule due to an issue, without compromising the test programme. The causes, the team says, are still under investigation. Raikkonen’s fastest lap was in 1:39.878 which was set of the 2019 hypersoft tyre.
Tomorrow it will be the turn of the team’s other new signing for the 2019 season, Italian Antonio Giovinazzi, to drive during the second day of the test at the 5.554 km Yas Marina Circuit.
Photos: Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team - 2018 FIA F1 World Championship
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