Sauber set to name Raikkonen teammate
"It’s a short list, that’s right"
Sauber boss Frederic Vasseur has denied that taking on Kimi Raikkonen for 2019 is part of the Swiss team’s deal with Ferrari.
Sauber is now a steadily improving midfield team backed by Alfa Romeo, a Fiat brand. This year it ran Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc, and for 2019 Antonio Giovinazzi is tipped to take over that cockpit.
But when asked if Ferrari refugee Raikkonen is also coming to Sauber with Ferrari links, Vasseur told Neue Zurcher Zeitung newspaper: "No, it has nothing to do with it.
"When Kimi realised that he would not be with Ferrari, he looked to the relationship that he already had with us.
"There was a phone call and then we met and, like me, Kimi likes to get straight to the point. It was a very, very fast deal. Less than four days," he added.
Vasseur admitted that Giovinazzi and Marcus Ericsson are at the top of the list for the other cockpit.
"It’s a short list, that’s right," he smiled.
"We have been busy getting Kimi on board but this week we will take care of the second driver."
He admitted that Raikkonen will struggle to match the results he has achieved with Ferrari, but said Hinwil based Sauber is rapidly improving.
"Last year in Singapore we were five seconds behind, now it’s just two. That’s a huge leap in this sport," said Vasseur.
"The key for us was Alfa Romeo. Without them we would not have been able to get Raikkonen or the Ferrari technical director Simone de Resta. It was our step from a private team to a team associated with a manufacturer.
"Nevertheless, we will remain independent," he insisted.