After much speculation it has been confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will be joining Sauber next season, the Scuderia promoting young charger Charles Leclerc in his place for 2019. The Italian team confirmed that Raikkonen, 38, will see out the remainder of the 2018 season before swapping colours to join the Sauber team next season, in a direct swap for young hotshot Charles Leclerc. Raikkonen has been a member of the Ferrari family on and off for 11 years since making a move from McLaren Mercedes team at the end of 2006 season, a relationship that took the then 27-year-old to his one and only World Championship success. Having seemingly lost motivation in Formula One following a strong run of form for teammate Felipe Massa, Raikkonen would exit the sport for a brief spell in the World Rally Championship, in 2010, before eventually returning to Grand Prix racing following a less than successful spell outside of the sport in both rally and NASCAR competition. Returning initially with the Lotus team for 2012, Raikkonen would immediately show the kind of form displayed in his earlier career, eventually leading to a surprise return to Ferrari ahead of the 2014 season. Despite often showing strong form in the following years, Raikkonen has so far failed to add to his 20 race victory total, with seven rounds of the current season yet to run. Now heading into his 39th year, Ferrari have taken the brave decision to replace the popular Finn with highly rated junior driver Charles Leclerc, the 20-year-old Sauber driver having an impressive debut year in the sport for the perennial midfield team. Having long been a favourite of the late Sergio Marchionne, Leclerc has been deemed to have done enough during the opening rounds of the 2018 season to earn a drive with the Scuderia for 2019, bucking the long held Ferrari tradition of employing more seasoned and established drivers for their Formula One outfit. "Dreams do come true... I'll be driving for Scuderia Ferrari for the 2019 Formula 1 World Championship," said Leclerc on Twitter. "I will be eternally grateful to Scuderia Ferrari for the opportunity given. "To Nicolas Todt for supporting me since 2011. To my family. To a person that is not part of this world anymore but to whom I owe everything of what is happening to me, Papa. To Jules, thank you for all the things you learnt me [sic], we will never forget you, and to all the persons that supported me and believed in me. "I will work harder than ever to not disappoint you. But first, there is a season to finish with an amazing team that gave me the opportunity to fight and show my potential. Let's go Sauber F1 Team." Leclerc is regarded by many as a future World Champion prospect in Formula One, and with both current Ferrari team leader Vettel and Lewis Hamilton now well into their 30’s, Ferrari are clearly looking to establish their future prospects in the sport by investing no one of the brightest talents on the current grid. With many expecting the deal to move Leclerc into a Ferrari seat next season to spell the end of Raikkonen's illustrious career, the ever surprising Finn shocked the paddock by announcing he will take the seat vacated by Leclerc in 2019, re-joining the outfit for which he made his Grand Prix debut in 2001: "Signing Kimi Raikkonen as our driver represents an important pillar of our project, and brings us closer to our target of making significant progress as a team in the near future," said Sauber team principle Fred Vasseur. "Kimi's undoubted talent and immense experience in Formula 1 will not only contribute to the development of our car, but will also accelerate the growth and development of our team as a whole. "Together, we will start the 2019 season with a strong foundation, driven by the determination to fight for results that count." According to a post on Raikkonen's Instagram account, the 2007 World Champion has agreed terms to a two year deal with Sauber, taking Raikkonen to 41 years of age at the conclusion of the 2020 racing season. Kimi looks set to line up alongside Sauber favourite Marcus Ericsson next year, although the Swede could be under pressure for his drive by outgoing McLaren man Stoffel Vandoorne, the Belgian having a long standing relationship with Sauber Team Principle Vasseur that dates back to their successful GP2 campaign of 2015. For more from the world of Grand Prix racing, don't forget to check out the Formula One forum here at RaceDepartment and get involved in the conversation. Like what you see here at RaceDepartment? Don't forget to like, subscribe and follow us on social media! Instagram Twitter Facebook Youtube Twitch SUPRISE!