Vettel admits he'll be sad to see Raikkonen go

ebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari with team mate Kimi Raikkonen
© XPB 

Sebastian Vettel has admitted that he'll be sad to see Kimi Raikkonen leave Ferrari at the end of the season.

It was announced earlier this week that Charles Leclerc will be heading to Maranello next season on a reported four-year contract, while Raikkonen will return to Sauber where his Formula 1 began in 2001.

Vettel and Raikkonen have enjoyed a strong working relationship over the past four years, unusual for team mates in the pressure cooker environment of F1. But not even Vettel's support could swing another season for Raikkonen at Ferrari in 2019.

"It's sad to know that Kimi is not there anymore because I think we get along even though we are different," Vettel said in Singapore.

"I think the most important thing if you are teammates is the respect that you have for each other, or the degree of bullshit going on between each other

"With Kimi it has been zero from the start, and I don't think it will change until the end," he added. "As I said, we have this mutual respect for each other.

"Obviously it's always a change, but to be honest right now nothing changes. So I'm more focused on the next races rather than next year," he pointed out. "For now it's not that important, it's more important for next year."

Vettel said that he hadn't even had a chance to catch up with Leclerc since the announcement was made on Tuesday.

"I don't have his number," he said. "But in these days I'm sure he was very busy anyway. If I get to see him then I'm sure that I'll find the right words. By the sound of it we'll have enough time to exchange our phone numbers in the future."

"It's a great chance for Charles," he acknowledged. "It's a great opportunity for him. He's been in the junior programme of the team for a long time, so it's good to see there's progression.

"It's great that he gets the opportunity to race in a big team, and then we'll see. We'll do our best to work on him, we want to work together as a team."

Vettel didn't expect it to be difficult to exchange one veteran team mate for a much younger driver who is currently still in his maiden season.

"Age I think is not relevant," he insisted. "If you are fast and talented then the age doesn't matter. You can be fast and talented also when you are old on paper.

"I think Kimi is probably the best example, so you have two good examples."

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